The Variability of Women’s Rights Across the Middle East

Student Author(s)

Siyang Hu

Faculty Mentor(s)

Professor Wayne Brouwer; Professor Charles Green; Professor Amy Otis – De Grau; Professor Yolanda Vega; Professor John Yelding

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Many Westerners believe that women are mistreated throughout the Middle East. However, women’s rights differ across the Middle East in various ways. In some countries, women have gained more rights in the last fifty years, but in others they have not. It is useful to compare Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which are in the extremes in the role of women in religion, the economy and society in general. In Jordan, for example, women are allowed to drive without limitations; however, in Saudi Arabia, if a women is seen driving, she is automatically imprisoned. Unfortunately, the policies of countries such as Saudi Arabia lead many people to believe that all Arab nations treat women in that way. The mass media have encouraged that stereotype as well. The reality is that across the Middle East, each country has different practices and policies, and women’s rights are expanding at different rates. Lebanon, for example, is closer to Jordan in terms of women’s rights, while Algeria is more conservative and closer to Saudi Arabia. It is a mistake for the world to generalize about Arab women when in reality there is significant variability in women’s rights across the Middle East.

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