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Laura Mohmand 1

Position of women in the Middle East countries

Laura Mohmand

12th grade ELA

Mr. Janosch

November 27, 2017

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According to the article “The Islamic World: Past and Present”, “ The role of women in

Muslim society has changed significantly in the centuries since Islam began in Arabia in the

early 600s”. For decades Islamic countries have discussed a lack of equality that muslim women

face, even though Islam says men and women are equal women still don’t have equal access to

many areas of Islamic life.

Gender inequality refers to unequal treatment of men and women. The United Nations

Development Programme (UNDP) talks about some facts about gender equality on its website

(Gender Equality). It also states that even though people made so many improvements there’s

still many inequalities between men and women. Some of these inequalities include but are not

limited to the following:

• Two thirds of people in the world who cannot read are female

• Nearly seventy percent of the world’s poorest people are female

• In only 16 countries in the world are women’s representation in national parliaments

above 25 percent

• Women’s contributions to the global economy are growing rapidly, but their labor

remains undervalued and undercounted in national accounts

• An estimated one-quarter to one-half of all women have suffered physical abuse

One of the main reasons for the current limitation of women's rights is the traditional patriarchal

structure of society, characteristic of the countries of the Islamic world. Women are given the

role of housewives and mothers, while men must protect and support their families.

Islam recognizes the equality of men and women. According to the basis of the religion, the

Quran, we can see that the God makes it very clear that women and men are equal. So, the God

in the Qur'an says: [ 3:195] “I never fail to reward any worker among you for any work you do,
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be you male or female - you are equal to one another”. [33:35] “The submitting men, the

submitting women, the believing men, the believing women, the obedient men, the obedient

women, the truthful men, the truthful women”. Thus, Islam clearly states that a man and a

woman have equal status. In religious and practical matters, in the rules of fulfilling obligations

to the Almighty, man and woman are also equal. Both man and woman equally worship, follow

the same norms of etiquette and behavior. In conclusion, it can be said that Islam recognizes an

equal spirituality both in woman and in man.

At the same time, the religious factor plays a significant role in shaping the perception of

the place of women in society, and not only by men, but also by women themselves. According

to a Gallup Center survey in Abu Dhabi, more than 60% of women in each of the countries that

are members of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said that religion affects all aspects of

their lives. Unfortunately, sometimes this "reflection" leads to tragic consequences (Nicole


A wide response was caused by the incident in Mecca in March 2002, when members of

the religious police prevented the girls from one of the women's schools from leaving the

building in which the fire began, because they did not have traditional headscarves and long

dresses. As a result, 15 girls died and 50 received burns and injuries.Only in 2010, after 8 years

the Ministry of Education of Saudi Arabia responded to this incident, and allowed the rescue

services to have direct access to the territory of women's schools, regardless of the foundations

of religion.Women demonstrators are a new phenomenon in the Middle East. Recent events in

Muslim countries known as the "Arab Spring" have received a lot of publicity in the sources of

information. In this revolutionary struggle, Muslim women felt the need to express political

activity. There was a chance to freely declare their interests. They resorted even to desperate
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actions to provocations in the form of strikes, rallies. So in 2011, in Egypt, there were massive

protests. At the "Liberation Square" under the name Tahrir, Muslim women assisted the

Protestants. Provided communication, security. At the cost of their lives, without fear of violence

and aggression, women supported their people in revolutionary actions. Women's protest against

Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt, who ruled power for about 30 years, was also supported

by men. As a result, no radical decisions were taken in the field of gender equality, but there

were other victories. Mubarak finally withdrew from his duties as president and was later taken

into custody. More than 235 Muslim women were humiliated. Girls were frightened by

contracting the virus of hepatitis and AIDS. As a result, I can say that the authorities of most

Eastern countries used in response to active demonstration physical methods of suppressing

women: violence, murder, arrests, torture, kidnapping, beatings, humiliation. Muslims, in

addition to fear for the lives of children, husbands, fathers, also experienced pressure on

themselves. Women have acquired mental trauma, watching the violence against their relatives.

The disgrace of the army that oppresses its own people.

It should be noted that to achieve heights in business to women from the GCC countries

is much easier than to break through until recently exclusively the male world of politics.

Therefore, the problem of gender inequality in the political life of the countries of the Persian

Gulf deserves special attention. Slow implementation of reforms in them can partly be attributed

to the peculiarities of the political structure of the GCC member countries, which are

conservative monarchies. Thus, until 2002, women of Bahrain were generally deprived of any

political rights. To take part in the municipal and parliamentary elections in 2002, Bahraini

women were able only after making the necessary changes to the country's constitution. It should

be noted that more than 60% of the female population of Bahrain did not support female
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candidates during the 2002 elections because they were convinced that women could not have

the necessary knowledge to participate in political life. In 2004, for the first time in the history of

Bahrain, the post of Minister of Health was given to a woman. This practice was continued in

2005, when the ministerial duties related to social policy were entrusted to the woman, and in

2008, when the woman took the chair of the Minister of Culture and Information.

As for the political changes in women's lives of the UAE and Qatar, they were largely

due to the spouses of the rulers of these states, Sheikh Fatima Bint Mubarak Al-Qatabi, the wife

of the late President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan and Sheikh Muse

Nasser Al Misnad, the wife of Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. In March 1999, the

first elections were held in Qatar, in which women participated. In March 2003, during the

municipal elections in Qatar, a woman was elected for the first time. The UAE women began to

hold positions in the Sharjah Parliament a few earlier in Qatar, namely, from 1997. In November

2004, the woman was entrusted with the post of Minister of Economy and Trade of the UAE. In

2007, women accounted for 22.5% of the total membership of the Federal National Council of

this country.

Oman was also keeping up with his neighbors. In October 2003, the first parliamentary

elections took place, in which the female population of the country was able to take part. In the

same year 2003, Sultan Qaboos appointed the first woman to ministerial office, and in 2007 14

women began work in the Council of the country - the Majlis of Ad-Daul. The need to grant

suffrage to women was also raised in Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah decided to take this step only

after the "Arab Spring" riots in September 2011. Women will be able to run and will have the

right to vote in the next municipal elections to be held in 2015. And although King Abdullah's

reform is symbolic, some representatives of the clergy did not fail to criticize such "radical"
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innovations. However, given the conservative sentiments in the kingdom, it is unlikely that

women in Saudi Arabia should expect significant changes in their situation in the near future.

Judging by the results of the recent extraordinary parliamentary elections held in early February

in Kuwait, which resulted in women losing their 4 seats in the parliament since 2009, Kuwaiti

women will also have to fight for the realization of their political rights.

By joining the principles of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of

Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf have not

forgotten about some reservations regarding the consideration of the principles of the Shariah

that men and women are essentially different, not unequal. Nevertheless, gradually the Persian

Gulf countries are reviewing the established norms regarding the place of women in society. And

first of all, changes have affected the labor market, where every year the presence of women

increases. Most women in the Persian Gulf countries are employed in the public sector.

According to statistics, the employment of women in the Kuwait labor market was 31.8% in

2001 and 51% in 2007. In Bahrain, working women accounted for 21% in 2000 and 31% in

2007. The number of women working in UAE increased from 15% in 2000 to 41% in 2007.

In general, the changes taking place in the GCC countries and related to the resolution of

the gender issue are controversial. On the other hand, there has been some progress: the presence

of women in the labor market, participation in political life, literacy level, etc., and at the same

time, segregation and "crimes of honor" take place, which inhibits the transformation processes

necessary for adaptation to modern realities.

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Work cited

“Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.” United

Nations, United Nations,

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Contributor, ADP. “ADPVoice: The Top 5 Performance And Management Issues Of 2018.”

Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 27 Nov. 2017,


“Equality of Men and Women.” Equality of Men and Women in Submission (Islam),

“Gender equality.” United Nations Development Programme ,

“MIDDLE EAST | Saudi police 'stopped' fire rescue.” BBC News, BBC, 15 Mar. 2002,

Micallef, Joseph V. “The Arab Spring: Six Years Later.” The Huffington Post,, 28 Jan. 2017,


Naurath, Nicole. “Most Muslim Americans See No Justification for Violence.” Gallup news , 2

Aug. 2011,

“Political empowerment for women in the Middle East.” Global Fund for Women, 9 June 2016,

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“The Islamic World: Past and Present.” Edited by John L. Esposito, Oxford Islamic Studies,