The improvement of women’s rights in the Arab world

The importance of governing authorities

Authored by: Vickie Langohr , Amaney Jamal

Governance in the Middle East and North Africa

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  February  2013

Print ISBN: 9781857435849
eBook ISBN: 9780203850053
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780203850053-8

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Abstract

Although there is significant diversity in the level and types of rights that women enjoy in different Arab countries, women’s status across the region as a whole is quite low. This can be seen in several easily quantifiable cross-national indicators, such as the percentage of women in parliament and in the workforce, where the Arab world scores lowest in the world. It can also be seen in less easily measured factors that affect women’s lives equally if not more deeply, such as personal status laws (PSLs), which in almost all countries give women significantly fewer rights than men in marriage, divorce and other family matters. However, while Arab women face many problems, significant improvements are also occurring; Freedom House’s 2010 Women in the Middle East Report noted important advances in women’s rights since 2005 in all but three countries, and several governments have passed key PSL changes over the last decade.

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