SEATTLE, Washington — Islamic nations around the world have strict rules and regulations for women. These rules are essentially embedded in their political systems, resulting in gender inequality for women in the Muslim world. It is important to note that these nations have significantly high rates of poverty, indicating a trend between gender inequality and high poverty rates.
Three Muslim nations with gender inequality and high rates of poverty are Egypt, Syria and Iran. These nations follow traditional Islamic and Muslim codes and use them to regulate the daily lives of their people. Being a woman in these nations means one must get permission for everything, from personal decisions to joining the workforce. Here is a look into these three nations and how gender equality can help alleviate their poverty rates.
About 32.5% of people in Egypt live under the poverty line, according to a 2018 report by Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics. Egypt’s social and political unrest in 2011 slowed its economic rebuilding. Moreover, gender inequality in Egypt is fairly high compared with other countries. The 2020 Global Gender Gap Index ranks Egypt at 134 from 153 countries.
Gender inequality in Egypt exists mainly in the workforce, with women making up 26% and men 79%. This is partially a result of poor literacy rates, with only 65% of women knowing how to read. Some laws continue to limit a woman’s opportunity to own land, capital and financial assets. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap estimates that in 2020 the income of an average man is about 3.8 times larger than that of an average woman.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increasing the number of women in the workforce can lead to substantial economic gains, which would improve Egypt’s overall economy and financial conditions.
Additionally, providing citizens access to primary and secondary education can help developmental efforts. With more women in the Muslim world in the workforce, families can have more money flowing into their homes, helping bring them out of poverty. Access to better education improves women’s chances to work and greater working conditions.
A 2014 estimate shows 82.5% of Syria’s population lives below the poverty line. Political and social unrest contribute to this unusually high level of poverty. The 2017 unemployment rate of 50% is thought to increase as Syria’s economy continues to deteriorate.
According to a U.N. Women 2018 analysis, gender inequality continues to be a critical issue in Syria with violence and discrimination used against women as a war tactic to enforce social order. U.N. Women also highlighted that women are typically outnumbered in the political process, leaving women struggling to have their voices heard. Moreover, about 75% of young girls living in refugee camps choose to not go to school because they fear sexual assault. Syria laws do not have legal protection for women, which increases gender-based violence.
It is important to note that improvements in gender equality can benefit the overall nation and its economy. Empowering women in the Muslim world and providing them with the resources they need to be independent and successful allows them to provide for themselves and their families.
With women featured in the workforce, the Syrian economy may prosper. With more women in politics, the Syrian people can move towards equality and peace.
Poverty in Iran continues to increase since its 2013 poverty rate of 8%, according to the World Bank. As inflation increases and household incomes drop, more citizens find it difficult to afford basic resources.
Gender inequality is also seen in Iran’s high unemployment rate, 10.6% since December 19, and suggests gender gaps within the labor market. Men have an unemployment rate of 8.9% while women’s unemployment rate rests at 17.3%.
While women have access to primary and secondary education, they are discriminated against by employers in the labor market who state: “It’s a men’s club.”
Women who do find employment are typically restricted from the decision-making process. Iranian authorities have also regularly blocked the social and economic rights of women, and the government has shown support for discriminatory employment practices.
Equality in the workforce will allow women to be a source of income for their households. As incomes are decreasing and inflation increasing, an extra source of income may help stabilize the financial conditions of many families.
However, access to proper employment isn’t enough. Female empowerment is a major step toward alleviating poverty. Not only will it bring in more economic flow, but it will also help create a better society.
Women in the Muslim world are often suppressed by patriarchal societies. Female empowerment and gender equality will benefit not only families but also whole economies.
– Krishna Panchal