Women in the middle east
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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.

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Women in the middle east
Women in the Middle East:

Common Threads and

Diversity of Experience

Common threads
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

* Female literacy in the MENA region has tripled since the 1970s, but half the women in the region still cannot read or write.

Women s participation in the formal work force politics
Women’s Participation in the Formal Work Force & Politics

  • 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)

Women in the middle east

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
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
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
Regional and historic diversity


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
Women in Turkey: A case study

A Turkish mayoral candidate greets locals at a Diyarbakir market.

Photo: NF Watts, 03/04

Historic backdrop
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
Multiple experiences: Class and status

Women in eastern Turkey.

Class differences jobs and status
Class differences: Jobs and status

Female employee at a carpet restoration center in Turkey.

Former Prime Minister Tansu Çiller

Market woman in central Turkey.

My friend Selin making pottery.

Regional diversity
Regional Diversity

Map of Turkey; inset map of Turkey’s southeastern provinces

Regional diversity a turkish case
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 Turkey)

Diversity in dress the headscarf
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
Reasons for veiling:

  • Local custom

  • Assertion of women’s rights

  • “Post-modern” reaction

  • Peer pressure

  • State/family requirement

Reasons for veiling islam
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 24:30-31)

Types of head and body cover
Types of head and body cover

Hijab: Head scarf

Chador: Full body cover

Drawings from the Seattle Times

Types of body covering cont
Types of body covering cont.

Hindu woman covering face with sari or other covering.


More head body coverings
More head/body coverings…

Niqab: the face veil

Head and body fashion images
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 Fashion

Hijab & Abaya from alKaram fashion

Hijabs from Al-Iman Fashion

Abayas from Al-Iman Fashion

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