celebrated International Women's Day on March 8 2020. Such symbolic days,
however, seem to have little effect on the actual status of women in the world
as a recent United Nations report notes.
lead a protest against lack of women's rights in Turkey during the
International Women's Day celebration on March 8 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
strides towards greater gender equality, the world body notes there is not a
single country which has achieved gender equality. Moreover, 90% of men and
women hold some bias against females.
statistics are alarming: 50% of men thought they had more rights to a job than
women, and a third of respondents in 75 countries felt it was acceptable for
men to hit women. In China, 55% of respondents felt that men make better
what used to be regarded as the bastion of liberal democracy, the US, 39%
agreed with the statement that men make better political leaders.
as these figures are, there is hope if one considers how patriarchy is being
overcome in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. It is here where
patriarchy first developed between 3100 BC and 600 BC. It is also the region
which has experienced the least gender progress in the world. The figures are
widely held view that women belong in the domestic sphere, focusing on keeping
house and child-rearing, there are low rates of participation of women in the
Only 24% of
women in the MENA region are employed, while the figure for their male
counterparts is 77%.
according to a report of the International Labour Organisation, young women
with higher education have a slim chance of entering employment than their
less-educated male counterparts.
negative consequences for the household economy and the economy at large, and
it perpetuates greater dependence on male family members - husbands, fathers
and brothers. Patriarchy, built as it is on vertical power relations, is
[therefore] further entrenched.
of women in positions of power is glaring in the MENA region, as is their
absence in governance which is made possible by patriarchal attitudes.
to the Arab Barometer the majority of respondents believe in limiting the role
of women in society. Within the home, 60% believe that the husband should be
the final decision maker. Moreover, only a third of the Arab public believe
that women are as effective as men in public leadership roles.
marginalisation and oppression of women is a sad truism of MENA countries, this
should not be the norm. Patriarchy was constructed and can be deconstructed.
challenge for feminists then is to actively resist their marginalisation in
conjunction with other progressive players and to utilise the tectonic changes
underway in the Middle East - from the penetration of the internet, to making
common cause with progressive forces in society to open up the democratic
space in this sense does not only mean the fight for the ballot but also
emancipation in every sense - including freedom from patriarchy. There is
reason to believe that some of this is beginning to happen in the region.
for instance, how Morocco's rural women in an effort to access land from
conservative tribal authorities, formed action committees called Sulaliyyates.
These challenged tribal authorities and women's subordination at home and at
reason to believe women's experiences in mobilising against authoritarian
regimes in the region have resulted in a new consciousness on their part.
the connection between their own oppression and the need for emancipation of
the broader society. When women took to the streets against Omar al-Bashir in
Sudan it was their awareness of how fuel shortages and inflation brought on by
corrupt and inefficient governance were affecting household food security.
Headline: Patriarchy in Arabic society still a steep hill to climb for women
Source: Sowetan Live