The title of Moghadam's collection of essays promises stories of women's progression "from patriarchy to empowerment" but several entries indicate otherwise: Bedouin girls in Israel dropping out of high school; women in Nepal suffering from depression, and women across the Muslim world facing persecution and legal restrictions.
Some of the more informative entries are "Mobilizing Women for Nationalist Agendas," a detailed account of the political status of women in the Palestinian Authority by Deborah J. Gerner, "Feminist Organizing in Tunisia," by Sarah E. Gilman focusing on women's struggles in the most liberated of all the Arab nations, and Nilufer Narli's "Women in Political Parties in Turkey," examining a country in which women have enjoyed a comparatively high level of political rights since the days of Kemal Atäturk. But because many of its essays deal with topics and rely on information at least a decade old, the book suffers from an anachronistic feel; its usefulness as a tool for understanding the current status of women in the region thus suffers.
One of the most important essays in the book that attempts to fill this gap is Moghadam's own "Peace-Building and Reconstruction with Women," which describes the status today of women in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Palestinian Authority. But this chapter, as well as several others, has a political agenda: Ex-colonial powers are both to blame for many hardships of women in these regions and must improve their plight. In discussing Iraq, Moghadam writes that U.S. reconstruction efforts will not necessarily help women because "they entail the privatization of Iraqi assets and special deals for U.S. corporations." In "Education, Tradition, and Modernization," Sarab Abu-Rabia Queder puts the onus on Israel to prevent more Bedouin girls from dropping out of high school, rather than on the Bedouins themselves, whose culture does not value female education. The book pays little attention to the challenge of Islamism.
Moghadam poses an interesting question: In South Africa, Namibia, and Rwanda, three countries whose repressive regimes have been replaced by democracies, women have become significantly more empowered than in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, regions with a much richer historic women's movement. Perhaps the development of democracy and political moderation and the absence of radical Islam are the key factors—points unfortunately not raised in From Patriarchy to Empowerment.