Gauging the Gender Divide in the Middle East's Educational System: Causes, Concerns, and the Impetus for Change
Journal of Religion & Society, The Kripke Center, Vol. 15 (2013)
16 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2013
Date Written: September 24, 2013
The disparity in educational opportunities and prospects for women and girls in the Middle East depicts a frustrating trend in schools and colleges, but it leads to greater societal problems with enormous economic, legal, and sociopolitical consequences. The Global Fund for Muslim Women reports that while Muslims constitute 25 percent of the world’s population, Muslim nations contribute only 11.2 percent to the Global GDP. Data from the World Economic Forum and the United Nations suggests that much of this gap can be attributed to gender inequality despite Islamic teachings that support gender symmetry and equality of all people. While the educational system in the modern Middle East is dilapidated and anemic compared to similarly situated developing countries in parts of Latin America and East Asia, this essay asserts that the single-largest impediment to future regional prosperity in the Middle East is the lack of female education. National and local public policymakers identify the problem of female education, but do not recognize its severity except at the level of posturing that the problem exists. I review four recent books to provide insight into how contemporary public policy and legal regimes can be reworked to favor female education in the Middle East.
Keywords: Middle East, Female Education, Egypt, Iran, Turkey
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