Excellent Daughters

The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World

As recently as 1975, pioneering Moroccan Fatima Mernissi wrote that, in the Arab world, the notion of an unmarried female adolescent was "a completely new idea...where previously you had only a female child who had to be married off immediately so as to prevent dishonorable engagement in premarital sex." Today, young Arab women outnumber men in universities, and girls are better represented than ever in Qur'anic schools. They also put their educations to use in diverse ways, pressing for greater freedom within an Islamic context and protesting for political changes. While arranged marriages and gender segregation still prevail in some families, women are defining their own lives in ways that amount to another kind of revolution.

In her new book, Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women That Are Transforming the Arab World, Katherine Zoepf examines the complex lives of young women living in pre-civil war Syria, resisting extreme standards of self-presentation in Lebanon, and finding work and freedom outside the home in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, to name a few.

Join New America's Breadwinning & Caregiving Program for a conversation about these transformations, which are already shaping Arab society in surprising ways.

Follow the discussion online using #ExcellentDaughters and following @NewAmerica.

Copies of the book will be available for sale at the event. 


Katherine Zoepf 
Senior Fellow, Breadwinning & Caregiving Program, New America 
Author, Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World 

Peter Bergen
Vice President, New America
Director, International Security, Future of War, and Fellows Programs, New America