Alainna Liloia does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Arab women, long relegated to the private sphere by law and social custom, are gaining new access to public life. In Kuwait , female citizens outnumber male citizens in the workforce. And across the Gulf , women outnumber men in higher education enrollment. Women are making political inroads in the region, too.
Women in Arab countries find themselves torn between opportunity and tradition
Arab societies suffer from deep misogyny, but the problem is not as particularly Arab or Islamic as you might think. Picture a woman in the Middle East, and probably the first thing that comes into your mind will be the hijab. You might not even envision a face, just the black shroud of the burqa or the niqab. Women's rights in the mostly Arab countries of the region are among the worst in the world, but it's more than that. As Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy writes in a provocative cover story for Foreign Policy , misogyny has become so endemic to Arab societies that it's not just a war on women, it's a destructive force tearing apart Arab economies and societies.
Women in the Arab world live in situations that are rather unique, with special challenges not present in many other parts of the world. In particular, these women have throughout history experienced discrimination and have been subject to restrictions of their freedoms and rights. Some of these practices are based on religious beliefs, but many of the limitations are cultural and emanate from tradition as well as religion.
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