Welcome to the Middle East Today

The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Mar 15, 2010

International Women's Day

The United Nations has just celebrated its annual International Women’s Day (3/8/10). The objective behind this event, which started in 1977, is to acknowledge the fact that women and girls worldwide are still discriminated against, politically, economically and socially.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon noted “gender equality and women’s empowerment are fundamental to the global mission of the United Nations to achieve equal rights and dignity for all. This is a matter of basic human rights, as enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration. Furthermore, equality for women and girls is also an economic and social imperative. Until women and girls are liberated from poverty and injustice, all goals: peace, security, sustainable development, stand in jeopardy.” (The Daily Star 3/9/10).

For many decades, anthropologists have noted that “worldwide, cultures have been designed to favor males over females. This cultural definition is definitely not based on gender’s ability or capability, mentally or physically. Cultures in all societies define roles and performance based on a person’s gender status. This definition led to discrimination against women worldwide in all walks of life. Nevertheless, during the past two hundred years, women began to organize (in Western societies) and demanded equal rights with men. New Zealand was among the first to grant women the right to vote, in 1893. The Scandinavian countries followed the new trend. Moreover, in many western societies, such as the USA, Britain, France and others, women are still discriminated against despite the political and economic reforms that were achieved in the 20th century.

In general, the status of women in the Arab world is negative. Women and girls are discriminated against politically, economically, socially and religiously. Their status in Arab countries reflects a regression from the well-known historical background of the region.

The first woman ruler in the world lived in Egypt around 1500 B.C. More than 3,500 years ago, Queen Hatshsepsut was the first female pharaoh. Another female ruler, Queen Cleopatra of Egypt (69 B.C.) ruled over Egypt over 2,000 years ago. Organized women’s movements began during the early part of the 20th century in Egypt. However, it was in 1956 that women gained political rights to vote and in 1957 could enter the Egyptian parliament. In 1952, Lebanon granted women political rights, followed by Syria in 1953. Following this, many Arab states granted women the right to vote: Tunisia in 1959, Mauritania in 1961, Algeria in 1962, Sudan, Morocco and Libya in 1964, Yemen in 1967, Jordan in 1974, Iraq in 1980, Qatar in 1990, Oman 1994 and Kuwait in 2005. However, as of 2010, women in Saudi Arabia have still not been granted the right to vote. The majority of Arab countries began electing women to parliaments before the end of the 20th century. Those who were elected are still few in number.

Despite the meager political gains which Arab women have achieved recently, there is still a long way to go to reach equal rights with men. There are several sociological variables that need to be examined to assess the reasons behind the slow trends for the liberation of women in the Arab world. This will be discussed in the following post.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I am not surprised. People say all the time, in the news or on the internet, that the world is changing for the better good. However, I think that the world is not changing fast enough. I am thankful for the progress that makes our nation, our world better. However, I can see that many places in the world treat women unfairly. Women are equal to men. We are both humans’ just different genders. What is wrong with that? I think everyone that treats women unfairly should take a step back and breathe. Then they should look at what women have done for their countries and thank them.