Historically Middle Eastern women lacked the same rights and opportunities as men. For example, t...

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Historically Middle Eastern women lacked the same rights and opportunities as men. For example, they were denied the right to vote or hold political offices. Their ability to travel and drive cars was restricted. They were denied the same opportunities to education and their participation in the labor force was low compared to men. There were also restrictions on their choice of clothing and their roles within the family. All of the above areas are changing over time but the amount of change and progress depends on the particular country. by Mind Map: Historically Middle Eastern women lacked the same rights and opportunities as men. For example, they were denied the right to vote or hold political offices. Their ability to travel and drive cars was restricted. They were denied the same opportunities to education and their participation in the labor force was low compared to men.  There were also restrictions  on their choice of clothing and their roles within the family. All of the above areas are changing over time but the amount of change and progress depends on the particular country.

1. While women have lived under these types of restrictions historically and have only seen changes in certain areas and conditions, I think it’s important to value the long tradition of women demanding rights for themselves. Looking from the outside in a Western view, it’s easy to focus on the details (such as clothing) while overlooking the strong women and organizations that have worked within the region and connected with international organizations as well. In the podcast, the speakers talked about how the international women’s rights organizations did not include representation outside the US and Europe. This is another way imperialism has colored our view of the region. Middle Eastern women were excluded from the conversations, yet we now criticize what we call their “silence”.

1.1. I find it interesting that women, in this country, have recognized, early on, their worth and were willing to take a stand for it despite the dominance of the male population over them. They recognized. their worth to their society and to society in general and when they traveled the things they took away from their travels was the role that women were playing in other countries and nations. For them to recognize that and to join forces at a time when that was not the norm show the foresight they had.

2. In listening and reading to the various sources for this unit, it is amazing to read and hear about women who pushed for rights during the late 19th C. and early 20th C. in places that were not seen as equal by parts of the world or by world organizations. In hearing about how the expectation of women was to become educated in the means of running a house and raising children, yet women pushed for biographies (to show their own story and importance to history) and to be seen as equal to men in value of their story. It is unfortunate though that women in Syria and Lebanon were unable to sufficiently join the world movement of women to gain equal voting rights and treatment that the women saw mimicked in other nations. I also wonder about the article that we read about the view of women and the means by which they view rebellion in Islamic culture and how it differs from the Westernized version.

3. With the advent of Islam, some women on the Arabian peninsula actually gained some opportunities they previously did not have. For example, Muhammad's first wife, Khadijah, was a wealthy tradeswoman who selected Muhammad to be her husband. Other future wives of Muhammad gained political and even military experience, like Aisha. Muhammad also forbade female infanticide which occurred often in the peninsula and recognized women's role in society. Prior to Islam, women were extremely vulnerable to the whims of men and her stature in society depended on the men around her. There are two approaches when thinking about women in Islam in modern day-1. Islam creates significant problems for women in MENA or 2. with the current "revival" of Islam, women actually gain more liberation with respect for their status as women rather than the objectification seen in the West. In the UAE, where I have traveled, many women were government ministers, leaders in schools, health care, science and technology. We have also seen a cultural issue in MENA (not necessarily tied in with Islam) that women continue to face discrimination in both social laws and customs. It seems the region of MENA, like most regions around the world, are in a continual state of evolution mostly dominated by patriarchy and that patriarchy fears losing its dominance.

3.1. It appears that women had been seen on a level playing field with men during any pre-colonial times. Once the British and other Europeans started moving in, it seems that there was a backlash of sentiment of preserving one's own culture and not being taken over by another. In this, it seems that when the colonizers came in, the existing leaders in the affected Muslim countries laid out strict laws based on Q'ranic law, but where traditional Q'ranic law allowed for conscientious interpretation, the male dominated leadership enacted certain interpretations as immutable laws.