Gender Equality and MENA Women's Empowerment in the Aftermath of the 2011 Uprisings

Type Working Paper
Title Gender Equality and MENA Women's Empowerment in the Aftermath of the 2011 Uprisings
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2017
The MENA countries which this Project has considered form part of a ‘band’ across the map from Morocco in the West to perhaps India in the East which is profoundly patriarchal in its norms and values, treating half the population like children where they are not thought of more as property. Such treatment also brings social cohesion into question, however: women cannot sensibly be part of a consensus about fair dealing and equal treatment when even the laws are not fair with respect to them. The main conclusion of this Report is that there is that there is little support among either men or women in MENA for gender equality and the empowerment of women. Women are much more supportive than men, although even among women support is low. The gap in support between men and women is noticeably larger in Morocco, Jordan and Iraq and lowest in Libya, with Tunisia and Egypt lying between. The more educated, the better off and those living in urban areas are more supportive and those who support all status law being based on shari’a are less supportive. As in other research, age makes no difference, indicating that young people are no more supportive than older ones and confirming that there has been no generational shift to more liberal values. The differences between countries are statistically significant, with Iraq being the most supportive, closely followed by Morocco and Tunisia, and Libya the least supportive closely followed by Egypt. Jordan lies between the two groups. This finding is much as would be expected. Egypt has long been recognised as one of the countries most restrictive of women’s rights in the MENA region and the information emerging from Libya since the fall of Gadhafi indicates very conservative attitudes to women’s rights. Tunisia and Morocco have been widely reported as having more progressive attitudes to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. Iraq is not frequently mentioned in the literature as having progressive attitudes, but until the new Constitution of 2005 it had some of the most progressive status law in the region. The analysis suggests that since the beginning of the 21st Century attitudes towards gender equality and the empowerment of women have become more conservative in Egypt and less conservative in Morocco and Iraq. In Tunisia support for personal status law being enacted in accordance with shari’a has increased noticeably, possibly possiby to the influence of Political Islam in the country since 2011. The findings also confirm those of more recent research that questions the extent to which citizens want procedural democracy as the system of government in their country. Our findings suggest that support for procedural democracy as suitable for their country across the six countries varies from a high of just over 50 per cent in Iraq to a low of 17 per cent in Libya. Men were more supportive than women of unrestricted parliamentary democracy in Egypt and Iraq but the differences were not significant in the other four countries. The correlation between support for democracy and for gender equality and the empowerment of women was very low, with only six per cent of respondents supporting both.

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