No matter where in the world we go, we find that men and women are not equal. Everywhere in the world, violence and sexual crime is on the horizon. We want to know what makes patriarchy so resilient and how it fits with diverse political systems – capitalism, socialism, theocracy.

How is it that the 21st century continues to be defined by unequal sexual divisions of labour, and throws up new platforms for sexism? We want to find the fissures and contradictions and the ways in which the rise of feminist resistance is unsettling the new order. This book will investigate where and why patriarchy flourishes and where and why feminism thrives?

This is an ambitious project – we will visit Egypt and speak to the women activists of the ‘Arab spring’ to understand why they were failed by it; we will visit the autonomous Kurdish areas to report on a transformative experiment in gender equality and radical democracy; we will go to India to question whether the law can protect women from sexual violence and what civil society levers can be used to improve implementation of the law; we will go to Saudi Arabia to explore the tensions in the patriarchal trade-off between restricted freedoms for local women in the public sphere against freedoms from domestic chores carried out by imported women ‘slaves’; we will talk to Femen and Pussy Riot to assess how feminist spaces are squeezed when religion gets into bed with dictatorship and why they are expanded in secular dictatorships like Saddam Hussein’s. This is not an exhaustive list.

As part of this project and with the funding we have received from the Amiel & Melburn Trust, we have already visited Rojava, Northern Syria where an amazing experiment in gender, class and racial equality is underway in the middle of a warzone. You can read about it here: