Arab Woman to Gain Quotas
Quotas are setting up a percentage of or number or the representation of a certain group, in this case it will be women, most frequently in the form of a minimum percentage, for example a 20, 30 or 40 percent. Quotas are used as a measure to boost the representation of excluded or under-represented groups in politics in the past. In most of the countries quotas are target mostly to woman. It is targeted towards woman because the county was woman to take part in the county’s politics and it also helps woman’s to bring out the problems they face in the society and what the county can do to help them solve their problems.
Quotas have been introduced in many countries, for example “Latin American, Argentina was the forerunner with its introduction of legal candidate quotas in 1991. Since then this type of quotas has spread all over the Latin-American region. In Africa, South Africa has inspired other countries in the region to adopt voluntary party quotas, while Uganda has led concerning reserved seats. In South Asia gender quotas at the local level have been introduced in recent years in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, even if these three countries do not openly refer to experience made by their neighbors. “(Quota database, 2007)
• Quotas for women do not differentiate, but compensate for real barriers that prevent women from their reasonable share of the political seats.
• Women have the right as citizens to equal participation.
• Women's experiences are needed in or should be addressed political life.
• Women are just as qualified and educated as men, but women's qualifications are looked down upon and minimized in a male-dominated political system. (Quota Database, 2007)
• Quotas are against the principle of equal chance for all, since men are given less chance and woman are given more preference.
• Quotas are an undemocratic way; the voters should decided who should be chosen.
• Again a party should decide who should be in a party and who should be selected to represent a party.
• Quota again tells that people are elected on the base of their gender and not on their education qualification; and the candidates who are eligible for election are kept aside. (Quota Database, 2007)
Many of the non democratic countries like the Arab countries and African countries do not allow woman to take part in politics. In these countries women’s groups have been actively involved to help woman to take part or get seats in politics. Let us now take a look at how woman in the Middle Eastern regions are treated.
Woman in the Middle Eastern region have been seen as an oppressed group. From the sand deserts of Saudi Arabia to the hilly lands of Afghanistan, Arab woman have faced many problems in society. The role of any woman around the world is seen nurturing and meant to be taken care of the family, even in the Middle Eastern regions woman have been seen as nurturing and home makers. But many of the women have moved on to a more new outlook they have take roles as educators and laborers. Arab woman are threatening the traditional Arab family structure by moving to a modern view, however many of the woman are willing to make the sacrifice, to see the world has more to offer them than just family circle responsibility and childbearing. Islam religion allows their woman to be educated and also to earn a separate income from their husband. As Arab woman continue to seek education and continue their jobs, society’s anticipation over them, giving more power to those who are against these actions.
In the past decades , the number of Arab woman in work force have rise, and have included a solid education in their early life achievements. The idea of an educated and successful woman started lond time back, it dates back to almost 1500 years when Prophet Muhammad wife Khadija, she owned her own caravan and was her own employer, and she was successful at that. After the death of the Prophet the status and important of woman started declining slowly. Due to this many feminist movements started taking place. Even though these feminist movements encouraged Arab woman to raise in society only a handful were able to attain that, many countries like Saudi Arabia still held their woman back.
Muslims have taken Islam religion very seriously, while each Middle Eastern county has its own set of rules. Majority of the Middle Eastern countries take a few things from the Islam religion and a few things are thrown out just to satisfy with they want to achieve. This still happens in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
While a few countries do not permit woman to work, majority of the countries allow their woman to wok, therefore the number of woman in workforce has risen and also rate of woman achieving education has risen. There are still many factors which keep the number of woman in workforce low. In many of the Arab countries girls get married at a very young age, they barely even complete their high school. Therefore these Arab families consist of many children is not an uncommon sight. These two factors are the many cause of Arab woman’s participation in work force. The role of a woman in the house is seen is always viewed as a doubtful as to whether or not she can move up to a position of power or authority. Here in the Middle Eastern region especially Saudi Arabia, men and woman are not allowed to work closely, things like a hand shake with a man and a woman is prohibited. At restaurants there will be different sitting area for men and woman and one for family area where a man and his wife and children can sit. Culture like this has a large influence on woman and their upcoming in work force.
One country that is slightly advanced than the other Middle Eastern countries is Lebanon; the Lebanon government does not force their woman to wear a veil, communication between male and female is allowed publically. Lebanese woman have been given the freedom to sexually express them self.
In many of the Middle Eastern families the son is educated and independent and the girl is made to work alongside to the mother in the house. They domesticate the female child at an early age and tell them that this is what they need to know. Even some parts of India, Bangladesh, Sir Lanka, woman are seen as a home maker and not fit for outside the home jobs. Even if they are they are give job like a secretarial post, or a teachers post.
In Iran, woman joined the revolution to remove the Shah’s rule and played a very important role in helping. The Iranian women are now fighting against wearing the veil, and this battle they have to fight on their own. It is now up to them whether they want their freedom or not.
Arab woman have become more active in their societies, they have taken part from politics to feminist movements. In Kuwait, woman made history or wrote a new chapter for all other woman in the Middle Eastern region to get involved in politics and government positions. Kuwait Parliamentary finally allowed woman to participate in election, which means which means they will participate in 2007 elections. Also a Kuwaiti woman started a campaign to run for position in municipal council in Kuwait. This is the first time woman has taken part in campaign like this since 1962. This is the first time an election campaign was organized by a woman.
In 2006 Najah-al-Attar from Syria is the first woman ever to be elected or appointed in such a high position. She will be responsible for the cultural foreign policy. President Hafez Al Assad who was the president for nearly 30 years, Attar was the cultural minister during his rule. This kind of news is rare but encouraging to see woman being assigned to such high position in the Syrian government. It shows some progress on the uplifting status of woman among the Arab countries. It is good to see woman working in government and achieving such high position, it is also good to see that woman are not just treated as a symbol of domestic role.
On 25th of March 2006, a news article tells us, a large number of woman in Iran have also started in working in Iranian police force, and the government wants more woman to work under crime related issues. There are around 2000 police woman, but the head of the police says that they still need around 8000 more. A police recruiter said in a Islamic state like Iran men and woman have the same amount of rights and they both have equal rights. So as there as there is a need for having policemen there is need to have policewoman too.
In countries like Jordan woman are fighting to get seats in the parliament. In Morocco woman are roughly given 10% of 325 seats. A demand of quota for woman in Jordan is high. In many of the other Arab counties men feel a strong opposition to quota system and feel that political process should not be interfered with.
In the year 2002 in October, all eight women lost to men even when most of them who voted were woman. Some say that this is because of the culture; woman will not vote for another woman and will vote for a men as they feel that men should the one in power. Since 1970 the number of girls in school has doubled which means that more girls are being educated. (Arab women demand quotas)
Sheikha Yousef Hasan Al-Gerifi ran for city council in 2005 in Qatar. She can across many problem other woman around the world would have never faced. Since Qatar is a conservative country like its neighbor like Saudi, Sheikha Yousef Hasan Al-Gerifi’d family did not allow her to put her picture on her campaign as woman there are supposed to be wearing the Veil. But the most important that maters here is she won the election.
Political scientist Hala Mustafa of Egypt's al-Ahram Foundation says that woman have a small or very little power in the field of politics. In Saudi Arabia woman are granted a few political rights as compared to other countries, recently two woman were introduced to the chamber of commerce, it might be a small step but to the Arab Woman it is a very important step.
Although many achievements have been made yet so much more has to be done. Arab woman have a lot of oppression yet to overcome. Like we have seen before Islam has given many rights to woman, the ones have held these rights back from woman are the males in the society. Islam religion has given their woman to right to education and earn income separate from their husband. There is a major battle between religion and culture. How will this battle be resolved? Will Arab woman give way to independence and forget their traditional duties? Will they be able to turn society as a whole, or will they be able to give justice to both worlds and bring on a new generation?