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Women in the Middle East:


Women in the Middle East: Common Threads and Diversity of Experience Common Threads Fewer women than men in public life Fewer women than men in the public workforce ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Women in the Middle East:

Women in the Middle East
  • Common Threads and
  • Diversity of Experience

Common Threads
  • Fewer women than men in public life
  • Fewer women than men in the public workforce
  • Higher rates of female illiteracy
  • Lower rates of female education
  • Patriarchal system in the home and in public life

Female Literacy
Female literacy in the MENA region has tripled
since the 1970s, but half the women in the region
still cannot read or write.
Womens Participation in the Formal Work Force
  • About 80 percent of men participate in the
    workforce only about 33 percent of women (in the
    MENA region)
  • About 3.5 of parliamentary seats are occupied
    by women (lowest in the world)

Patriarchy a system that privileges males and
elders, giving males legal and economic power
over his family members.  In broader terms, the
extension of male dominance over women in society
in general. 
Patriarchal system
  • Public
  • Public office
  • Court testimony
  • Dress codes
  • Segregated work spaces
  • Limitations on movement
  • Private
  • Last names
  • Child custody
  • Divorce/marriage laws
  • Freedom of movement employment

Cultural, linguistic, ethnic diversity
Languages Persian, Arabic (many dialects),
Turkish, Kurdish, Hebrew, etc. Ethnic groups
Arab, Berber, Persian, Turkish, Jewish, many
more Religion Shiites, Sunnis, Jews,
Christians, Druze, others.
A Bedouin girl
Egyptian women on a bus
Some Iranian women.
Moroccan women demonstrating.
Regional and historic diversity
EXAMPLE- Saudi Arabia Women make up 4 of the
formal workforce Egypt Women make up about 30
of the formal workforce
Women in Turkey A case study
A Turkish mayoral candidate greets locals at a
Diyarbakir market. Photo NF Watts, 03/04
Historic Backdrop
  • Kemalist reforms in the new Republic
  • Sources of reforms re women
  • Economic
  • Ideological
  • Nature of the reforms
  • Legal equalities
  • Legal and social inequalities
  • New Feminism (1980s onward)
  • 2002 New civil law
  • New legal equality within the family

Multiple experiences Class and status
Women in eastern Turkey.
Class differences Jobs and status
Female employee at a carpet restoration center in
Former Prime Minister Tansu Çiller
Market woman in central Turkey.
My friend Selin making pottery.
Regional Diversity
Map of Turkey inset map of Turkeys southeastern
Regional diversity- a Turkish case
  • Literacy 78 literacy for women in Turkey
    overall (92 men) in Southeast Turkey, only 55
    women literate.
  • Education 92 girls in elementary school in
    Turkey overall only 75 in the Southeast
  • Marriage in the Southeast, 20 girls marry
    before age 15 (highly uncommon in the rest of

Diversity in Dress The headscarf
  • Veiling and exclusion from work NOT synonymous
  • Full-body covering not specifically required in
    the Quran
  • Traditionally veiling was a primarily an
    upper-class luxury

Village women in southeast Turkey.
Reasons for veiling
  • Local custom
  • Assertion of womens rights
  • Post-modern reaction
  • Peer pressure
  • State/family requirement

Reasons for Veiling Islam
  • "Say to the believing man that they should lower
    their gaze and guard their modesty that will
    make for greater purity for them and Allah is
    well acquainted with all that they do. And say to
    the believing women that they should lower their
    gaze and guard their modesty and that they
    should not display their beauty and ornaments
    except what must ordinarily appear thereof that
    they should draw their veils over their bosoms
    and not display their beauty except to their
    husbands..." (Qur'an 2430-31)

Types of head and body cover
Hijab Head scarf
Chador Full body cover
Drawings from the Seattle Times
Types of body covering cont.
Hindu woman covering face with sari or other
More head/body coverings
Niqab the face veil
Head and body fashion, images
Palestinian woman in Gaza
American Muslim woman showing difference between
the Niqab (left) and the Hijab (right)
Hijab Fashion
Hijab Abaya from alKaram fashion
Hijabs from Al-Iman Fashion
Abayas from Al-Iman Fashion
(No Transcript)
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