Democracy and Gender Equality in the Muslim World

Gender equality implies that a man and woman should be treated equally in every aspect of life, unless there is a biological reason not to. Except biologically, woman and man should ideally have the same rights at home, in the workplace, equal voting rights and right to own property and wealth. However, the real picture is very different almost everywhere.

Even in developed and progressive countries, from since a very long time, the male members of the family are the chief breadwinners while the women maintain their homes and raise children. With the gradual increase of female education, the number of working women is now-a-days almost equal to the male working population. Even so, the idea of a woman extremely immersed in her career or a man staying home to raise children – in other words, reversed roles – are not truly acceptable.

According to the U.S. Census, women earn 77 percent of what men earn in lieu of the same amount of work. This discrimination is because of the thought that women do not need to support a family of her own, they are generally complementing their male partners with her income; whereas, a man very often has to support his family with his single income.

However, in a number of Eastern countries, especially in Asia, Middle East and Africa, the primary duty of the female population is to remain at home as the male members of the family earn a living. In some countries, the number of working women compared to men is as low as almost nil.

In some Middle Eastern countries, women are not allowed to drive a car, or get out of the house without a male chaperone with them. Some other countries restrict females from travelling overseas without a male family member with them.

One of the most serious forms of inequality is violence against. Both in developing and developed countries, statistics show that one in three women is beaten, sexually or otherwise abused in her lifetime. The number of woman who have faced such violence from her family and partners, in forms of marital rape, spousal abuse, child abuse or spousal killing is extremely high in both the backward as well as the progressive societies.

Another extremely violent and dangerous discrimination against woman is infanticide and female feticide. China’s one-child policy and the preference of male child in India gave rise to termination of pregnancy and killing of female infants, reducing the ratio of female to male children as low as 927:1000.

The female population of the world has very recently gained the right to vote in the early 1900s. Before this time, women had no right to vote for any political parties during election. Besides, despite being half the population of the world, women hold only 15.6% or elected government seats around the world. Some countries have quota systems to increase the number female participation in politics.

Women consist of two-third of the population who is illiterate and uneducated. In most underdeveloped countries of the world, young girls are pulled out of school to look after their home, raise their younger siblings or to be married off. Being married of at an early age, they contribute largely in the increasing population, as well as the growing number of infant and maternity mortality.

In many countries of the world, husbands have rights to divorce their wives at any time for even the simplest reasons, but the women do not have similar facility. Polygamy is still accepted in some societies where a man has several wives at one time.

Even today, in many countries, women are beaten and tortured for standing against men and asserting their rights. In such extreme patriarchy societies, the government and law and order is silent to help these woman.

As gradually as science and technology is progressing almost daily, there are still some extreme dark corners of our civilization where severe injustice takes place regularly, and the female population of the world is its main victim.