Gender Gap in Muslim Societies


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A presentation held at UBC in Vancouver about the gender gap in Muslim societies.
February 23, 2012

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  • Insert: Bangladesh Rank 82*
  • Make concrete examples of this
  • In US, pro-life debate is going on, birth control
  • US: prayer in school, abortionSheikhs making laws in Saudi Arabia and interpretation of Islam, well paid by the stateWhile this is happening in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi prince is travelling, going to bars, going to prostitute, double standard between classes and genderTraditional vs. secular society explanation (rising tide)
  • Example: Taliban threatening with violence if girls are educated, or families choosing to not educate girls to have the girl appear more family oriented and marriageable
  • Studies have shown that at some levels segregated studies are beneficial AA, educating parents Some women elected, some appointed
  • Gender Gap in Muslim Societies

    1. 1. Reducing the Gender Gap in Muslim Societies: The Case of Pakistan The Maria-Helena Foundation
    2. 2. What is „equality‟ ?Equal access to “opportunities that allow people to pursue a life of their own choosing and to avoid extreme deprivations in outcomes” (World Development Report, 2006)
    3. 3. • It measures gaps not levels Female MaleCountry A) 20% 40%Country B) 40% 80%Country C) 20% 20%Countries A and B both have a gap of 0.5Country C has no gap
    4. 4. Why reduce the Gender Gap?• It‟s a basic human right• Freedom from male control• Better health care• More participants in the economy = economic growth• Improved work/life balance for both women and men
    5. 5. Global Gender Gap• Report of the World Economic Forum (2010)• Based on four pillars: – Economic attainment – Political participation – Health – Education
    6. 6. Examples of Sub-indicesPakistanBangladesh
    7. 7. Edit this slide.
    8. 8. Gender Gap in Muslim Societies
    9. 9. The Muslim world
    10. 10. Why is the gender gap so high?o Cultureo Religiono Structural and systemic barrierso Varying levels of socioeconomic developmento Varying levels of democratization
    11. 11. Culture• Combination of local pre-existing, pre- Islamic cultures• Dictated by morals and values influenced by pre-existing practices and religion• A foundation for the way of life: social, political, economic
    12. 12. Religion• Interpretive nature – various manifestation of religiosity in secular and traditional states (Bosnia vs. Saudi Arabia)• Used to support discriminatory attitudes and policies• Absolutist values on social roles, sexuality, morality• In some places, immune from public scrutiny and challenge
    13. 13. Structural/Systemic• Traditional vs. secular governments• Various types of governance• Influence of clerics, religious/moral police• Culture and religion serve as foundations upon which systemic structures are formed and upheld
    14. 14. Socioeconomic development• Low literacy impacts women‟s access to reproductive and general health• Low literacy correlates with maternal and child health/mortality• Rural areas: problems of infrastructure• High fertility and poverty mean that families would prefer to send boys to school in many cases• Families may be forbidden to or choose not to send their daughters to school
    15. 15. Democratization• Laws and policies which support girls and women are not always enforcedExample: Women in Saudi Arabia and Iranhave high levels of literacy but very low worksector participationExample: Women in Saudi Arabia will beable to vote, but cannot drive or be alonewithout male supervision
    16. 16. What can governments do?• Invest in schools, teachers, egalitarian curriculum development, and scholarships• Expand access to public education by removing fees which many parents cannot afford• Promote equality*• Provide equal opportunities for men and women to be educated and to work together as equals to build a healthy society
    17. 17. The Case of Pakistan
    18. 18. The Benefits and Limitations ofEducation as a Development Tool
    20. 20. Education in PakistanIn practice, no universal orcompulsory primary publiceducation system.Low attendance at primary andsecondary schools.Government vs privateeducation and the problem ofcorruption.Non-Formal Basic Education reaching girls.Lack in educational resources.
    21. 21. Worldmapper: Primary education spendingCountry size is based on the proportion of all spending on primaryeducation, measured in purchasing power parity.In Pakistan, education spending is 2.7% of the GDP.
    22. 22. The Situation for Girls • World‟s bottom 10 for female primary school enrollment. • High drop out rates, especially in rural areas. • Lowest literacy rates in South Asia • Contrast between political environment and cultural attitudes.
    23. 23. Why the Gender Gap in Education?• Higher earnings for males• The social organization of families.• Children as a form of insurance.• Protecting honour and modesty.
    24. 24. Better returns for female education... Estimated economic returns for female education is higher than for males at all education levels. Importance of low level education.Monazza Aslam Reasons?
    25. 25. Investment in Female Literacy has the Biggest Bang for The BuckMaternal Mortality 5 dollars invested in female education is worth 100 dollars Child Mortality Fertility Rate invested in economy Moral of this story? Invest in female education Female Literacy Rate
    26. 26. Connecting Female Literacy to Human Security
    27. 27. Empowering women through higher educationWhat are the benefits of highereducation for women?(1) Awareness of legal rights(2) Economic independence(3) Better civil societyparticipationWhat are the limitations?Cultural norms as barriers to legal rights.Education biases.
    28. 28. How the Maria Helena Foundation is reducing the gender gap• MHF has 13 primary schools where more than 200 women are employed.• MHF has 2 vocational training schools in which several teachers are employed and are training women for the garment industry.• MHF has several scholarships for women only in middle and high schools.• As we believe women should have a voice at the decision making level, MHF has persuaded one of its conservative partner NGOs to have 3 women on its board. .
    29. 29. Education as an important stepping stone...Female education is an important instrument for socialchange.But education in itself is not enough to rectify genderdiscrimination.Need to increase female labour force participation.Need to recognize the role of cultural norms andpractices.Legal rights not just in writing but socially accessible.
    30. 30. THE END ?
    31. 31. References• Aslam, Monazza. “Rate of Return to Education by Gender in Pakistan.” 2007. Oxford: Global Poverty Research Group.• Bilquees, Faiz, and Najam Us Saqib. 2004. “Drop-Out Rates and Inter-School Movements: Evidence from Panel Data.” Islamabad: Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.• Malik, Samina, and Kathy Courtney. 2010. “Higher education and women‟s empowerment in Pakistan.” Gender and Education 23(1): 29-45.• United Nations Children‟s Fund. 2011. “Adolescence: An Age of Opportunity.” The State of the World’s Children, 2011. New York, NY: UNICEF.