Women's Education in the Middle East Thesis

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The objective of this work is to explore in detail a particular aspect of women's experiences in education in the Middle East.

In a Voice of America news report published the 4th day of June, 2005 it is stated that for many parts of the Middle East, "education is a luxury, unavailable to many or only offered to a select few. Too often, girls are prevented from attending school by custom, lack of resources, and oppression. The result is that too many people in the region can neither read nor take advantage of the opportunities that come with education. According to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, across the broader Middle East and North Africa, more than seventy-five million women and more than forty-five million men are illiterate." (Voice of America, 2005)

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Thesis on Women's Education in the Middle East Assignment

The work of El-Sanabary (1989) entitled: "Determinants of Women's Education in the Middle East and North Africa: Illustrations from Seven Countries" states that while considerable progress has been realized in the Middle Eastern countries toward the improvement of educational opportunities for women both in terms and accessing and attaining education at all levels, there is stated to be "much...[that] remains to be done." (El-Sanabary, 1989) Findings stated in a study conducted and reported by El-Sanabary is that "the level of economic development of a country and the distribution of income have a much stronger impact than do Islamic and cultural values, while the size and growth rate of the population can place a major strain on school facility and resources. Sex-role stereotypes and the division of labor in the home and marketplace mean that expected returns from female education do not appear to justify the costs. Free, compulsory education and open admissions have led to major improvements in female education but have no guaranteed equity. Socio-economic background, parental education, family size, and family socialization exert a strong influence on educational attainment. Other key factors are a family's ability to cover the costs of education and forego the labor of the daughters. The availability and accessibility of schools and the quality of their programs and human resources have significant effects on female educational enrollment, continuation, quality, and outcome. All-girls schools have played a positive role under certain conditions. Because of the importance of female teachers and administrators as potential role models, their high rate of attrition and absenteeism calls for careful solutions." (1989)


In a report published by the Journal of Religious Minorities in Iran Elizabeth Kelleher states the fact that if one were to bring "potable, clean water to a village, it frees up girl's time - it is they who fetch and carry water. They can go to school." (2007) it is clear that simple daily issues of living present barriers to women in education and even the simplest of things such as ensuring the household has drinking and bathing water. In less developed areas of the world the tasks of the male and female of the household are assigned according to capability. Naturally the harder and heavier work falls to the male or males in the household while the less strenuous task, such as that of carrying water from the local well or waterhole to the family dwelling falls to the women. This is a cultural aspect that is very much the same in any society or culture that is characterized by less developed areas that are lacking in municipal provision of water, electricity and other things so taken for granted in the more developed areas of the world today. (Kelleher, 2007) Naturally, the less developed society is just that because of lacks in economic and financial derivatives and therefore, it is logical to assume that poverty bars the way to educational assess and attainment in the Middle East. The following illustration depicts the female illiteracy rates and per capita income of women and included are select Middle Eastern countries.

Female Illiteracy Rates and per Capita Income Including Middle East Countries

Source: Roudi-Fahimi and Moghadam (2003)

Gross Enrollment Ratio (%)a Women as a Share of Uni- versity Enroll- ment (%) Public Education as a Share of Total Govern- ment Expendi- ture (%) Percent of People Ages 15 and Older in Labor Forceb Women as Percent of Labor Forceb Total Fertility Ratec Primary Secondary Fe- male Fe- male Middle East and North Africa 91-100 62-71 -- 20-73-20 3.3

Source: Roudi-Fahimi and Moghadam (2003)

Percent of Population Over Age 15 Who Are Illiterate, 2000 Number of People Over Age 15 Who Are Illiterate (thousands), 2000% of Population Ages 15 to 24 Who Are Illiterate, 2000 Number of People Ages 15 to 24 Who Are Illiterate (thousands), 2000 Female Male Female Male Middle East and North Africa 42-22-50,057 26,671 23-11 8,585 4,573 Source: Roudi-Fahimi and Moghadam (2003)

Source: Roudi-Fahimi and Moghadam (2003)

Roudi-Fahimi and Moghadam (2003) state that the benefits of female education in regards to the empowerment of women and equality of genders are recognized broadly and include the following facts:

As female education rises, fertility, population growth, and infant and child mortality fall and family health improves.

Increases in girls' secondary school enrollment are associated with increases in women's participation in the labor force and their contributions to household and national income.

Women's increased earning capacity, in turn, has a positive effect on child nutrition.

Children -- especially daughters -- of educated mothers are more likely to be enrolled in school and to have higher levels of educational attainment.

Educated women are more politically active and better informed about their legal rights and how to exercise them. (Roudi-Fahimi and Moghadam, 2003)

According to an 'Early Childhood' development the Fourth World Conference on Women, which was held in Beijing in 1995 acknowledged that women's literacy is "key to empowering women's participation in decision-making in society and to improving families' well-being." (Roudi-Fahimi and Moghadam, 2003) the UN is stated to have set out the Millennium Development Goals which focus on the essential role of education in "building democratic societies and creating a foundation for sustained economic growth." (Roudi-Fahimi and Moghadam, 2003)

Roudi-Fahimi and Moghadam (2003) This report states the facts as follows in regards to educational opportunities:

education is the single most important determinant of both age at marriage and age at first birth in MENA countries, since women in the region tend to give birth soon after marriage;

Among married Egyptian women ages 25 to 29, those with no education had married at age 18, on average, and had their first child by age 20; those with a secondary or higher education married at an average age of 23 and had their first child by age 25. Turkey's 1998 DHS showed that 22% of girls 15 to 19 years old who had no education or who had not completed primary school were already mothers or pregnant, compared with only 2% of girls who had completed secondary or higher education.

Women with more education also tend to have healthier families. In Egypt, for example, children born to mothers with no formal education were more than twice as likely to die as those born to mothers who had completed secondary school. (Roudi-Fahimi and Moghadam, 2003)

Roudi-Fahimi and Moghadam (2003) state that the educational attainment of women results in more women entering the job market however participation of women in the Middle East job market is still incredibly low. Roudi-Fahimi and Moghadam (2003) state that it is necessary to improve the quality of education provide more vocational training, develop job-creating programs and remove obstacles to women's entrepreneurship will assist in the alleviation of the unemployment rates of females in the Middle East.


The Association for Middle East Women's Studies in the work entitled: "Voices of Resistance: Women Speak Out" reports an interview with two women from Iraq. One of these women 'Al-Mufti' relate that the literacy rates among women were really quite high following 1979 however, the fine education system in Iraq has been reduced to nothing due to sanctions and wars. (Basarudin and Shaikh, 2003) Another interview 'Al-Khedairy' states that because Iraq has become so lawless and the schools are in such a terrible state that it appears that schools will be so long out of reach to students that those who miss their schooling, at least the girls, will likely resort to prostitution as did the women in Iraq prior to the time they could receive an education.


The work of Rihani and Prather (1994) entitled: "Strategies for Female Education in the Middle East and North Africa: Learning for the 21st Century" reports a plan for assisting educational planners and policymakers in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region in identification of various strategies focused on increasing both the access to and retention of girls in the education system. There are twenty strategies identified in this report that focus on improvement of the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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