On Wednesday, the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) released another major report, also dealing with the status of women around the world in 2010. The numerous indicators explored in the report include the rate of girls of primary school age enrolled in school, compared to that of boys.
The seven countries with the biggest gaps are all Islamic countries – Chad (a 22 percent difference between boys and girls enrolled), Yemen (20), Pakistan (16), Guinea-Bissau (16), Mali (14), Iraq (13) and Niger (13).
Two Islamic countries do break the pattern significantly – in Iran the percentage of girls enrolled in primary school is nine percent higher than that of boys; Mauritania also has five percent more girls enrolled than boys.
When it comes to the difference between literacy rates in adult women and men, Islamic countries once again score worst for women.
Of the seven countries with the biggest literacy gaps, five are Islamic – Yemen (a 36 percent gender gap), Mozambique (30), Guinea-Bissau (29), Niger (28) and Pakistan (27). The non-Islamic two are Central African Republic (28) and Ethiopia (27).
With the net cast wider, of the 28 countries scoring worst for women when it comes to literacy, 20 are Islamic states.
Representation In Government
The DESA report also tracks the percentage of women represented in parliaments in 2009. Rwanda scores highest, with 56 percent of its parliamentary seats held by women.
At the other end of the scale, the only countries with no female representatives are all Islamic, and all Arab Gulf states – Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Finally, Islamic states fare poorly in a list showing the percentage of women making up the adult labor force.
In 27 countries where women accounted for less than one-third of the total adult labor force, 22 are Islamic states, with the UAE (women comprise 15 percent of the workforce), Saudi Arabia (16) and Qatar (16) scoring worst.
The article includes an interview with U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Thoraya Obaid, a Saudi, who claims that situation for women was better under Saddam than after the US invassion--and that the statistics in the report are mere stereotyping.
Of course, there is some truth to what she is saying. My understanding is that Saddam did not discriminate when it came to torture.
Technorati Tag: Islam and Muslim Women.