Fatema Mernissi (b. 1940)

Mernissi was born and raised in a traditional Moroccan household—a harem. Mernissi’s female relatives, however, insisted that she receive the education that they had been denied. Her interest in political science eventually led her to the Sorbonne in Paris; Brandeis University in Boston, where she earned her doctorate; and the University of Mohammed V in Morocco, where she taught sociology. Above all, Mernissi has devoted her career to examining—and challenging—the strictures placed upon women in traditional Islamic societies. Her publications include The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women’s Rights in Islam (1988), Doing Daily Battle: Interviews with Moroccan Women (1991), and Islam and Democracy: Fear of the Modern World (1992).