Linked with Khadija Al-Haisami – Yemen, and with the Human Rights Information and Training Center HRITC.

Excerpt of ‘Towards the Rise of Women in the Arab World, the fourth Arab Human Development Report – UNDP‘, December 21, 2006:

… Despotic authority and the rise of women: Paradoxically, repressive regimes, for their own reasons, have encouraged women’s rights in ways that might not have been possible if matters had been left to the natural progress of society, given its imposed and inherited constraints. The mechanisms of political oppression have even served at times to accelerate the rise of women. But the Report notes that this imperious, top-down style of “progress,” however enlightened, inevitably encounters objections and resistance from the popular base. It argues that a shift to free and well-governed societies in Arab countries would be quite capable of realising those historic breakthroughs required for women to advance, while also attracting broad social support that will guarantee the movement popular strength and sustainability.

The undervaluation of women’s participation in economic activity: Arab society does not acknowledge the true extent of women’s participation in social and economic activities and in the production of the components of human well being, and it does not reward them adequately for such participation. Since most women work without pay for their families, their contributions are not recognised as economic activity. This historical prejudice is reflected in the undervaluing of women’s contributions to different types of human activity in general, and to economic activity in particular. A proper evaluation of women’s contribution to producing the elements of human welfare requires a creative theoretical foundation that goes beyond the national accounts’ system, restricted as it is to market exchange and the cash valuation of goods and services. This can be done by using a broad definition of human welfare that is commensurate with the concept of human development. From a procedural perspective, this will require diligence in developing research and statistical tools that aim to measure accurately women’s contribution to the production of human welfare and the construction of human development. This is a field that remains open to research.

THE STATE OF WOMEN IN THE ARAB WORLD: The state of women in Arab countries results from, and contributes to a number of cultural, social, economic and political factors which interact to affect levels of human development. Some factors are problematic in nature and tus call for a close analysis of various components of Arab society. The Report examines the situation of women in the region by tracing a basic axis of human development: the acquisition and utilisation of human capabilities and resulting levels of well being. It probes levels of health and education in particular. It also assesses experiences in the advancement of women by reviewing two factors crucial for the success of such a movement: the extent of Arab society’s desire for such progress and the forms of social action adopted to pursue it.


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