International human rights laws prohibit discrimination against women in the enjoyment of their fundamental freedoms, and all other human rights. . Although eliminating discrimination is crucial to realizing women's rights, its comparative approach compares women's equality to men's enjoyment of rights, highlighting the universality of men as the subject of international human rights standards, whose rights are strenuously promoted and explicitly protected. To the extent that they are officially acknowledged in the founding of human rights agreements, women's rights are viewed as a subset of the universal and formulated as "protective" measures instead of human rights. By using journals, news, reports, and research papers about women’s rights in the Middle East, this research examines the claiming of their rights, their access to education, and all the struggles they went through to achieve most of their rights. We decided to focus this research on women’s rights in the Middle East, where they were neglected and where we have suffered a lot for years, feeling deprived of women’s rights.. We divided the topics into three categories in our research: the educational, social, and national aspects of the problem. Furthermore, we conducted an interview on Zoom with a successful woman who has faced many struggles in her life due to her nationality to collect more information about women’s rights.

History of women’s rights in the Middle East:

Women in the Middle East are demanding more chances and rights. In the second half of the 19th century, as the Ottoman Empire began to fall apart, thinkers and academicians throughout the Middle East and North Africa began a process of thinking and reflection about the causes of their state of development while the West witnessed considerable technological progress and economic growth. In his 1899 essay Tahrir al mara‘a (The Liberation of Women), the Egyptian philosopher Qasim Amin recognized that women were the foundation of society and saw the causes of Egyptian poverty in women’s lack of education, the veiling, and their obedience to men. He proposed a plan to reform the condition of women in Muslim societies: joining hands with emerging women’s associations, he began to advocate that elevating the status of women in Muslim societies was a nationalistic necessity and duty (“Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa,” Global Policy Journal, 2022).

Is there Gender Equality in the Middle East?

Despite the unpleasant reality that gender inequality happens on a worldwide scale, the Arab world not only has a substantial gap but the greatest impediments to fixing it. The 2018 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report provided great insights concerning the asperity of common prejudice in the Arab area. The four factors the report evaluates are political empowerment, health and survival, educational attainment, and economic partnership and convenience. Gulf nations like Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have closed gaps in health and business-related involvement, yet gaps in pursuing equality still endure. Qatar increased the number of women in politics from zero in 2017 to about 10% in 2018. Despite having a depressing track record when it comes to gender equality, Saudi Arabia has decreased income inequality and boosted the involvement of women in the labor market. However, restraining behaviors from men still live and limit the liberty and flow of daughters. Despite Lebanon making only simple enhancements in the portion of wives in the legislature, Jordan and Lebanon have waited unaltered. The gender gap in Oman is more expansive than in former ages on account of lower business-related data. In the four countries with their government accompanying hostile accomplishments in the globe, three of that are in the domain Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen women hold just 7% of administration (“Gender and Inequality in the Arab Region,” Globaldialogue.isa-sociology.org, 2022). 

Is there gender inequality in Lebanon?

The 2018 Global Gender Gap Report has classified Lebanon as one of the worst countries for women. According to them, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Lebanon are among the ten least gender equitable nations. Lebanon tried to follow worldwide changes when the country participated in the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. It then created the National Commission for Lebanese Women in 1998 and the Ministry for Women’s Affairs in 2016. Theoretically, the nation tries to support a more generous and liberal environment for women, but in practice, this is far from being the case. Currently, there are just six women in the 128-seat parliament. Instead of standing up for themselves, Lebanese women continue to enter politics as the widows of past leaders. As a result, they continue to defend religious interests instead of feminist objectives, contributing to dividing Lebanon further. Women made up about 25% of the trained workers in 2017, which highlights the problematic gender gap among Lebanese trained workers. Common people and religious experts still rule the lives of girls in the country (“Gender and Inequality in the Arab Region,” Globaldialogue.isa-sociology.org, 2022).

We interviewed Ms. Sarah Abo Najam, an instructor at our university and a coordinator in our workplace, who represents a role model for us because she is an educated and independent woman. She graduated with a B.A. degree in English literature from Haigazian University in 2006, and a Master’s degree in Law, specializing in Women’s rights in the Arab world at the Afro Asian Institute affiliated with the GC University Faisalabad in 2010. She worked in her field as a teacher for approximately 20 years in Lebanon. When she decided to work in Saudi Arabia, they rejected her application for the reason that she is not married. According to Saudi law, she cannot work in a foreign city without a man beside her. This situation shows us that gender discrimination creates big gaps between men and women in the Middle East; a man would not have faced Ms. Sarah’s situation because he has all the rights.

Women and education in the Middle East

Women who have received an education are more likely to take part in the government and contribute to highlighting women’s public and financial issues. In comparison to the rest of the globe, the Middle East has higher rates of illiteracy among women. In the Middle East, the patriarchal system dismisses women and denies them their fundamental civil rights. Women’s education levels in the Middle East are far lower than the world average, which is an important, negative issue. Although there have been significant improvements in women’s education in the Middle East, there is still much work expected to be done.

Additionally, even though girls have outperformed men academically, they are more likely to not receive an education due to a lack of resources. One of the main determinants of women’s lack of education is poverty. Numerous issues would be fixed if women in the Middle East had access to education, which would contribute to lower rates of baby death, childbirth mortality, and better control of population growth. Women who have completed their education are more inclined to lobby the government and advocate for socioeconomic causes. Western countries and their governments, on the other hand, may assist the Middle East by providing adolescents with the grants and scholarships they need to achieve a good education (The lack of women’s education in the Middle East | QS GEN, 2022)

Acknowledgment

This research was done by the use of many Arabian journals (Ryada, Safir, Unicef) and many other online resources. A big thanks to Dr. Sarah Abou Najem for being a part of our research and to all the journalists who did the studies about women’s rights.

References

Global Policy Journal. 2022. Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa. [online] Available at:  https://www.globalpolicyjournal.com/blog/03/10/2017/women%E2%80%99s-rights-middle-east-and-north-africa

Globaldialogue.isa-sociology.org. 2022. Gender and Inequality in the Arab Region. [online] Available at: https://globaldialogue.isa-sociology.org/articles/gender-and-inequality-in-the-arab-region

Qs-gen.com. 2022. The lack of women’s education in the Middle East | QS GEN. [online] Available at:

https://qs-gen.com/the-lack-of-womens-education-in-the-middle-east/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roula El-Kady and Nojoud El Abaza

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