The Complexity of Women in the Middle East Analytical Essay

Looks at the treatment of women in the Middle East as exhibited by the Jewish state of Israel, predominantly Muslim states and within these Muslim states themselves.
# 150930 | 2,820 words | 26 sources | MLA | 2011

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This paper stresses that the involvement of women in politics, education, the workforce, the family and the society of the Middle East is defined by religious, historical and social traditions. However, the author states that it is imperative to first examine the religions of Islam and Judaism because religion is the essential source from which attitudes towards women in the Middle East have grown. After reviewing the advances and setbacks of the status and rights of women of the Middle East, the paper concludes that, while it is easier for Western nations to relate to Israeli women, an understanding of the religious and cultural backgrounds of Middle Eastern nations is essential to comprehending the current views, practices, laws and conditions of women in this area. The paper includes in-text citation.

Table of Contents:
Islam and Judaism in Defining the Roles of Women
The Political Status and Rights of Women in the Middle East
Women in the Middle East as Wife and Mother
Education and Literacy in Middle Eastern Women
Women in the Workforce
Women in the Public
Restrictions on Women's Clothing

From the Paper:

"In the Middle East, as in most other areas of the world, women play an important role in the family unit, primarily as both wife to a husband and mother to children. In spite of their obvious significance in familial life, women in the Middle East often have been given little rights in regards to the affairs of the home, resulting mainly from perversion of Islamic law. Iran remains to be an example of Islamic influence on the lives of women in the Middle East. In 20th century Iran under the reform of Reza Shah Pahlavi when the extraction of religion from the state was attempted, "the secularization of the judiciary did not include the secularization of family law and the shariat continued to be applied to the family." Women have, therefore, continued in the subservience to men in the home outlined in the shariat. Suggestions in the Koran to a woman's role as wife are indicative of the various roles women may portray. Anwar Hekmat describes the obligations of women in the Koran in that "...when a husband calls his wife to his bed to have sexual intercourse, she must obey without a word no matter what her condition may be." He continues to mention the role of the Sharia, Islamic law, in the dramatically unequal rights of men and women. "According to Islamic law, when a man wishes to divorce his wife, all he's to do is say 'You are divorced,'... and the wife is thrown out of the house ." "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Elizabeth Olson, "Women Called Mideast's Untapped Resource." New York Times, September 17, 2003, date accessed: April 28, 2008.
  • "The Rights of Muslim Women," December, 1997, available from date accessed: April 28, 2008.
  • Anwar Hekmat, Women and the Koran: The Status of Women in Islam (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 1997).
  • Paula M. Cooey, William R. Eakin, Jay B. McDaniel, ed. After Patriarchy: Feminist Transformations of the World Religions (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1991)
  • John H Otwell, And Sarah Laughed: The Status of Women in the Old Testament. (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1977)

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

The Complexity of Women in the Middle East (2012, May 11) Retrieved October 31, 2020, from

MLA Format

"The Complexity of Women in the Middle East" 11 May 2012. Web. 31 October. 2020. <>