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 Maaberuna

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Women in the Arab World:

Situation and Perspectives

(A Statistical Approach - excerpts)

 

Akram Antaki

 

To my wife Mouna,

My daughters Lana and Noura

And my son Tarek

 

Table of Contents

1 Introduction.

2 (U.N.) Worlds Women 2000: Trends and Statistics.

2 1: Population Situation.

2 2: Women and Men in Families.

2 3: Health.

2 4: Education and Communication.

2 5: Work.

2 6: Human Rights and Political decision-making.

3 The Situation within the Arab countries (A briefing)

3 1: Algeria

3 2: Egypt

3 3: Libya

3 4: Mauritania

3 5: Morocco

3 6: Somalia

3 7: Sudan

3 8: Tunisia

3 8 1: Summary.

                        3 8 2: Statistics.

                        3 8 3: People.

            3 8 4: Economy.

3 9: Bahrain

3 10: Iraq

3 11: Jordan

3 12: Kuwait

3 13: Lebanon

3 14: Occupied Palestinian Territories

3 15: Oman

3 16: Qatar

3 17: Saudi Arabia

3 18: Syria

3 19: United Arab Emirates

3 20: Yemen

4 Factors of Influence - I (A Comparative First Approach).

4 1: Economical Factor.      

4 1 1: GNP per Capita.

4 1 2: The Economical Situation.

4 1 3: Economical Regimes and Political Conjunctures.

4 2: Social Factor.

4 2 1: Ethnic and Religious composition.

4 2 2: Urbanization Level

4 2 3: Higher Education.

4 2 4: Openness to the External Word.

5 Factors of Influence - II (Going beyond the Numbers).

5 1: Countries Background and level of Civilization.

5 2: Religion, State and Fundamentalism.

            5 3: Political Factor (Democracy and Dictatorship).

            5 4: Western Influence.

6 Repercussions.

6 1: Arab Womens Situation.

6 2: Arab Women and Families.

6 3: Arab Women and Health.

6 4: Arab Women, Education and Communication.

6 5: Arab Women and Work.

6 6: Arab Women, Human Rights and Political decision-making.

7 Conclusions and Recommendations.

Appendix 1:

A 1: Israel

A 2: United States

A 3: United Kingdom

A 4: Germany

A 5: France

A 6: Turkey

A 7: Iran

A 8: Pakistan

 

 

1

Introduction

I still remember that evening. We were watching TV. It was a concert by Um Kulthum in the Cairo Opera House in the early sixties, when, all of a sudden, with her low voice, Mouna made this short comment:

-          Look Akram! There is not one single veiled woman in the whole audience!

And really, there was not one single woman veiled in all the audience! And the concert was almost 40 years ago! Now, suffice us to have a short glimpse of people walking in the streets of Damascus and/or Cairo to realize how deeply we have changed. Now, the percentage of veiled women within our societies seems on its way to become prevailing again. And this reality, sad for some of us, rejoicing for others, has many complex reasons.

And, these reasons are obsessing; they have been stimulating me for a long time to write something about the issue. But, for a reason or another, I did always postpone it. Until some months ago, when I read in the eighth issue of Maaber an article by George Farah entitled Malehood in our traditions, I made up my mind to write something, an essay, about Womens Situation in the Arab World; and this, as a first approach, leads me to the

 

2

(U.N.) Worlds Women 2000: Trends and Statistics.

Because numbers are the first thing we need to evaluate our situation, I begin with the (U.N.) worlds women 2000 Trends and Statistics that gives the following main findings about the women situation in the world for the following topics:

2 1: Population Situation.

Where the most important findings are that:

A Women are having fewer children on average but with more women of             reproductive age, world population continues to grow.

B Population of 1.15 billion adolescents, living mostly in developing countries, is largest in history.

C Population of people over 60 is expected to grow from 600 million to 1 billion in next 20 years, with many older women than men.

D Populations around the world are ageing as fewer children are born and people live increasingly longer lives.

E Although women outnumber men in most regions, men outnumber women in parts of Asia.

F Women represent a large proportion of international migrantsan estimated 56 million women out of a total of 118 million migrants.

2 2: Women and Men in Families.

Where the most important findings are that:

A Women are generally marrying later but more than a quarter of women aged 15 to19 are married in 22 countriesall in developing regions.

B Informal unions are common in developed regions and in some countries of the developing regions.

C Birth rates continue to decline in all regions of the world.

D Births to unmarried women have increased dramatically in developed regions.

E More people are living alone in the developed regions, and the majority are women.

F In many countries of the developed regions, more than half of mothers with children under age three are employed.

2 3: Health.

Where the most important findings are that:

A Life expectancy continues to increase for women and men in most developing regions but has decreased dramatically in Southern Africa as a result of AIDS.

B Infant mortality is generally higher for boys than for girls, except for some countries in Asia where gender-based discrimination outweighs girls biological advantage.

C Where women are sexually active at a young age, they are at risk of suffering short- and long-term consequences of sexually transmitted infections (including HIV), early pregnancy and unsafe abortion.

D Data on maternal mortality and other causes of death are often unavailable or, where available, are unreliable due to deficiencies in vital statistics registration systems.

E Data on maternal mortality and other causes of death are often unavailable or, where available, are unreliable due to deficiencies in vital statistics registration systems.

F New efforts are being made to measure health expectancynot just life expectancyof the worlds ageing population.

2 4: Education and Communication.

Where the most important findings are that:

A The gender gap in primary and secondary schooling is closing, but women still lag behind men in some countries of Africa and Southern Asia.

B Two thirds of the worlds 876 million illiterates are women, and the number of illiterates is not expected to decrease significantly in the next twenty years.

C Women have made significant gains in higher education enrolment in most regions of the world; in some regions, womens enrolment now equals or surpasses that of men.

D More women than men lack the basic literacy and computer skills needed to enter new media professions.

E In many countries, women represent a rapidly increasing share of Internet users.

2 5: Work.

Where the most important findings are that:

A Women now comprise an increasing share of the worlds labor forceat least one-third in all regions except northern Africa and western Asia.

B Self-employment and part-time and home-based work have expanded opportunities for womens participation in the labor force but are characterized by lack of security, lack of benefits, and low income.

C The informal sector is a larger source of employment for women than for men.

D More women than before are in the labor force throughout their reproductive years, though obstacles to combining family responsibilities with employment persist.

E Women, especially younger women, experience more unemployment than men and for a longer period of time than men.

F Women remain at the lower end of a segregated labor market and continue to be concentrated in a few occupations, to hold positions of little or no authority and to receive less pay than men.

G Available statistics are still far from providing a strong basis for assessing both quantitative and qualitative changes in womens employment.

2 6: Human Rights and Political decision-making.

Where the most important findings are that:

A All but 26 States have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, making it the second most widely ratified human rights treaty.

B Physical and sexual abuse affect millions of girls and women worldwideyet are known to be seriously under-reported.

C In some African countries, more than half of all women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation and its prevalence is not declining.

D Women and girls comprise half of the worlds refugees and, as refugees, are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence while in flight, in refugee camps and/or during resettlement.

E Despite calls for gender equality, women are significantly under-represented in Governments, political parties and at the United Nations.

And, by focusing on the Arab World, we notice that these general findings and their related statistics gives us spotlights on womens situation in the Arab countries that does not seem to be very brilliant. And we ask ourselves about the real causes of such a situation? Why is it relatively acceptable in here and/or relatively bad or worse in there? Is it evaluated positively or negatively in each country and in general? To answer all these questions we went deeper into the

3

The Situation within the Arab countries

(A briefing)

Because, It is clear from U.N. statistics, like for all those who visit the Arab countries, that there are big differences between them, in general, and so far as women are concerned, in particular. In Lebanon and, more or less, in Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia womens situation according to standards of the civilized world looks better than in others Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, or Sudan. And the reasons for that are many and differ from a country to another.

A general lookout on the situation within these countries, based on the following main sources that are the CIA World Fact Book, the World Bank reports and Statistics, the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Encyclopdie Larousse gives us the following results:

 

Algeria

Egypt

Libya

Mauritania

Morocco

Somalia

Sudan

Tunisia

Bahrain

Iraq

Jordan

Kuwait

Lebanon

Palestinian Territories

Oman

Qatar

Saudi Arabia

Syria

UAE

Yemen

 

To these countries, we add Israel where 20% of the population is Arab. And, for comparative purposes we make a look out on the situation within some of the most developed and influential Western countries mean the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France; and also for the same purposes, a look out on some very specific non-Arab Muslim countries mean Turkey, Iran and Pakistan.

3 8: Tunisia

Map of Tunisia

3 8 1: Summary:

Official name: Al-Jumhūriyah at-Tūnisiyah (Republic of Tunisia).

Form of government: multiparty republic with one legislative house (Chamber of Deputies [182]). Tunisia is a republic. Its 1959 constitution vests legislative power in the unicameral Chamber of Deputies, consisting of 141 members directly elected to five-year terms. Executive power resides with the president, who is directly elected to a five-year term. The president governs with the assistance of an appointed cabinet headed by a prime minister. The Democratic Constitutional Assembly (former Desturian Socialist Party) has been the dominant and often the only officially recognized party since independence, and opposition parties have not participated in elections frequently or with effect.

Copyright 1994-2002 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Chief of state: President.

Head of government: Prime Minister.

Capital: Tunis.

Official language: Arabic.

The countrys official language is Arabic, though French is also widely spoken.

Copyright 1994-2002 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

According to the CIA World Fact Book the Arabic (is the official language and one of the languages of commerce), the French (is for commerce).

Official religion: Islam.

Note 1: The Tunisian constitution, promulgated in 1959 and subsequently amended, defines Tunisia as a republic whose religion is Islam and whose official language is Arabic.

Note 2: Tunisias legal system is based on a combination of French civil law and a liberal interpretation of Islamic law.

Copyright 1994-2002 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Background: Following independence from France in 1956, President Habib Bourguiba established a strict one-party state. He dominated the country for 31 years, repressing Islamic fundamentalism and establishing rights for women unmatched by any other Arab nation. In recent years, Tunisia has taken a moderate, non-aligned stance in its foreign relations. Domestically, it has sought to diffuse rising pressure for a more open political society.

CIA World Fact Book 2001

3 8 2: Statistics:

Birth rate: 17.11 births/1,000 population (2001 est.) (World avg. 22.1).

Death rate: 4.99 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.) (World avg. 8.9).

Net migration rate: -0.67 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2001 est.).

Natural increase rate: 1.15% (2001 est.) (World avg. 1.32).

Total fertility rate: 1.99 children born/woman (2001 est.).

Infant mortality rate: 29.04 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.).

Life expectancy at birth: male: 72.35 years; female: 75.62 years (2001 est.).

 

Life expectancy at birth (years)

1980

1990

1995

2000

Male

61

69

70

70

Female

63

72

73

74

 

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 0.04% (1999 est.).

Major causes of death per 100,000 population: n.a.; however, of approximately 12,000 deaths for which a cause was reported in 1992, complications of pregnancy and childbirth represented 31.6%, circulatory diseases 22.4%, accidents and poisoning 14.9%, respiratory diseases 7.2%.

Note: Health conditions in Tunisia are improving, though far from adequate, and compare favorably to those of many developing countries.

Copyright 1994-2002 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Literacy:

 

TUNISIA 

Year

Illiteracy rate (%)

Illiteracy population (000)

Total adult population (000)

 

 

Total

Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

1970

72.6

59.1

85.2

2,000

787

1,214

2,756

1,332

1,424

 

1975

63.7

50.5

77.1

2,029

809

1,220

3,185

1,602

1,582

 

1980

55.1

41.6

68.8

2,074

788

1,286

3,763

1,894

1,869

 

1985

47.4

34.0

61.0

2,100

757

1,343

4,429

2,227

2,202

 

1990

40.9

28.4

53.5

2,081

726

1,355

5,088

2,554

2,534

 

1995

35.3

24.0

46.7

2,085

711

1,374

5,903

2,961

2,942

 

2000

29.0

18.6

39.4

1,928

621

1,307

6,650

3,334

3,316

 

2005

23.8

14.4

33.3

1,754

530

1,224

7,369

3,693

3,677

 

2010

19.6

11.0

28.3

1,567

442

1,126

7,987

4,004

3,983

 

2015

16.1

8.4

23.9

1,363

357

1,007

8,467

4,247

4,220

UNESCO Institute of Statistics (for populations aged 15 and above)

 

Education access and attainment:

 

 

1980

1990

1995

2000

Net primary enrollment rate (% of age group)

 

 

 

 

Male

92

97

100

99

Female

72

90

95

96

Progression to grade 5 (% of cohort)

 

 

 

 

Male

89

92

90

..

Female

84

78

92

..

Primary completion rates

 

 

 

 

Male

..

..

..

..

Female

..

..

..

..

Youth illiteracy Rate (% of people aged 15-24)

 

 

 

 

Male

14.4

7.2

4.4

2.6

Female

41.9

24.8

16.3

10.8

 

Television and Internet:

 

 

1995

2000

Television Set per 1000 people

89

198

Internet User (1000)

1

100

 

3 8 3: People:

Population (2001): 9,705,102 (July 2001 est.).

 

Population

1980

1990

1995

2000

Total (millions)

6.4

8.2

9.0

9.6

Female population (% of total)

49.3

49.4

49.5

49.5

 

Density (2001): persons per sq km 59.3.

Urban-rural (1994): urban 61.0%; rural 39.0%.

Sex distribution (2001):

-          at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female

-          under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

-          15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female

-          65 years and over: 0.99 male(s)/female

-          total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2001 est.)

 

 1 Sex Distribution

Age Structure (2001):

-          0-14 years: 28.74% (male 1,440,636; female 1,348,133)

-          15-64 years: 65.12% (male 3,157,988; female 3,161,596)

-          65 years and over: 6.14% (male 296,930; female 299,819) (2001 est.)

Population projection: (2010) 10,661,000; (2020) 11,641,000.

Note: Nearly two-fifths of Tunisias population is under 15 years of age. The annual rate of population growth is high by world standards but is comparatively low for the Middle East and North Africa. Governmental efforts to promote family planning and a high rate of emigration have in part suppressed the rate of population growth. The countrys population density is the highest in North Africa, with most people living near the coast and more than half living in urban areas. The entire southern half of Tunisia is only lightly populated.

Copyright 1994-2002 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Doubling time: 54 years.

Ethnic composition: Arab 98%, European 1%, Jewish and other 1%

Note: Tunisias population is largely a mixture of Arab and Berber elements. Arabs came to North Africa beginning in the 7th century and eventually conquered the indigenous Berbers. The Arabs brought their language and religion with them and intermarried with the local people. Most Tunisians today claim Arab ancestry and culture, and only traces of Berber culture remain.

Copyright 1994-2002 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Religious affiliation: Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%

Major cities (commune; 1994): Tunis 674,100; Safaqis 230,900; Aryanah 152,700; Ettadhamen 149,200; Susah 125,000.

3 8 4: Economy:

A General Overview:

Tunisia has a diverse economy, with important agricultural, mining, energy, tourism, and manufacturing sectors. Governmental control of economic affairs while still heavy has gradually lessened over the past decade with increasing privatization, simplification of the tax structure, and a prudent approach to debt. Real growth averaged 5.5% in the past four years, and inflation is slowing. Growths in tourism and increased trade have been key elements in this steady growth. Tunisias association agreement with the European Union entered into force on 1 March 1998, the first such accord between the EU and Mediterranean countries to be activated. Under the agreement Tunisia will gradually remove barriers to trade with the EU over the next decade. Broader privatization, further liberalization of the investment code to increase foreign investment, and improvements in government efficiency are among the challenges for the future.

B Economical Statistics:

GDP: purchasing power parity $62.8 billion (2000 est.)

GDP real growth rate: 5% (2000 est.)

-          1996: 7.1%;

-          1999: 6.1;

-          2000: 4.7 as per World Bank data profile.

 

1982-86

1987-91

1992-96

1997-200

Real GDP growth

2.8

4.1

3.9

5.3

Source: Tunisia LDB; Average for 1984-86.

 

GDP per capita: purchasing power parity $6,500 (2000 est.)

GDP composition by sector:

-          agriculture: 14%

-          industry: 32%

-          services: 54% (1999)

Population below poverty line: 6% (2000 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3% (2000 est.)

 

1982-86

1987-91

1992-96

1997-200

Inflation

7.5*

7.6

4.9

3.1

Source: Tunisia LDB; Average for 1984-86.

 

GNP per Capita:

 

 

1980

1990

1995

2000

GNP per capita(US$)

1,360

1,430

1,820

2,100

 

2 - GNP per Capita Progress

Labor force: 2.65 million (2000 est.)

Note: shortage of skilled labor

 

LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION

1980

1990

1995

2000

Total labor force (millions)

2

3

3

4

Female labor force (% of total)

29

29

30

32

 

Labor force by occupation: services 55%, industry 23%, agriculture 22% (1995 est.)

Unemployment rate: 15.6% (2000 est.)

 

Unemployment

1980

1990

1995

2000

Total (% of total labor force)

..

..

..

..

Female (% of female labor force)

..

..

..

..

 

                        Debt external: $13.0 billion (2000 est.)

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