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.

Subtle Forms of Discrimination against Muslims

There exist some extremely subtle and almost unrecognizable forms of discrimination in the workplace and in other aspects of life that might not even make sense to a lot of people.

Nonetheless, these discrepancies exist and a number of people, including Muslims, have to face them in their everyday lives.

Pew research about Muslim discrimination

According to Pew Research, Muslim Americans cite the biggest problem they face in the U.S. is a negative view of their culture, along with misconceptions, discrimination, and prejudiced against Islam.

In a country like the United States of America, the total population is made up of immigrants from a number of foreign nations, ranging from developed from English speaking countries such as the United Kingdom to African countries such as Ghana or Ethiopia.

It’s amazing that such a melting pot of cultures can cause such ignorance against one another.

Language discrimination

Everybody has a different accent and different language, whether you are from Alabama, Boston, or grew up in an Islamic family.

This gives rise to linguicism, or bias against people’s accents, vocabulary or diction.

In job interviews, having a foreign accent can convince the potential employers that the applicant might not be an efficient worker, even after being more qualified than a native.

It’s unfortunate that a highly-qualified lpn to bsn nurse could be discriminated against because of an accent.

Having a stutter or a speech disorder can decrease the chances of getting a job, or being able to stay at the job, or securing a promotion or raise. Even with a highly qualified and educated employee, many employees feel like stutterers cannot perform a job well, or handle responsibilities with ease.

Discrimination against women

Discrimination towards women takes various forms in the workplace. Not in all cases is gender discrimination as strong as the female workers being directly denied a promotion or openly being sexually harassed by other.

In some cases, it is as simple as calling female colleagues ‘Hunny’, or ‘Sweetheart’, or making a sexist joke or snide comments about a fellow female colleague.

Pregnant women or new mothers are often thought to be emotional and unable to handle major responsibilities as they are going through mental and hormonal changes. Commenting or complimenting a female colleague on her physical appearance is also a very mild form of discrimination.

In the case of Muslim nurses, physical discrimination can be brought on by the headscarf or hijab.

Small events of subtle racial discrimination are always present in everyday rituals, sometimes unnoticed by all and often involuntary.

Keeping an African-American woman waiting at the departmental store and serving others, serving a Hispanic family late in a restaurant, refusing to rent an apartment to a Asian student – these are all small acts of discrimination that often stay hidden and unnoticed by all.

Physical disabilities

Students with some kind of physical disabilities are sometimes advised to take easier subjects in case they may not be able to handle the pressures of a high demanding subject like physics or medicine.

Though there is nothing wrong with the student mentally or emotionally, only physical disability keeps him from choosing a subject to his liking. Again, a person with minor physical disabilities or illness may be passed over for an important assignment because he or she may not be up for it.

Ethnic and exotic names are sometimes discriminated against in mixed race countries like the United States. Recent studies show that, names like ‘Aisha’, ‘DeShaun’, ‘Lakisha’ and ‘Jamal’ are called in less for job interviews than all-American names like ‘Cody’, ‘Emily’ or ‘Greg’.

To avoid being discriminated against, many Jews in the US have changed their names slightly to sound more American, like changing ‘Stein’ to ‘Stone’.

Many African-American and Hispanic parents are now choosing American-sounding names instead of names that belong to their culture to make sure their children are accepted everywhere.

Subtle discriminations are usually mild and harmless, but it is unfair and wrong nevertheless. People really need to change their perspective about a number of things and people to treat everybody equally.

Concepts of Social Equality

Social equality implies to a state of equal rights, status and obligations among all men and women in a certain society.

It is an ideal situation when all living men in a community share the same voting right, financial independence, freedom of speech, right to own property and access to all kinds of social goods despite difference in gender, race, age or ethnicity.

As idealistic as that may sound, social equality is very rare in all societies. In every society and every country, we see one form of social inequality or another that everyone has to face in their lives.

Gender inequality

Gender inequality is common in almost all societies. Even in modern and developed societies, men are considered as the bread-earners of the family whereas the chief responsibilities of the women consist of maintaining the house and raising children.

Even with the gradual increase of highly qualified women in the workplace, the roles haven’t been changed completely. A woman completely absorbed in her career forsaking a family life, or a man choosing to stay home to look after the children is still frowned upon in the most advanced of societies.

Though in almost every society and country, woman has the same rights to property as a man, in most cases it is seen that the maximum important properties of the family, mainly the house or the car, is purchased under the name of the man.

Age discrimination

Age discrimination is seen mostly in the workplace, where people over or under a certain age has difficulty in ensuring a job for themselves based on their age. Though there exists a law under every State and Federal Law in the US, age discrimination is still prevalent in a number of organizations.

Caste inequality

Caste inequality is an aspect that is not seen in the developed countries, but still exists in some of the traditional and backward nations of the world.

Besides, racial inequality is an aspect prevailing in every society. Regardless of gender or age, people belonging to diverse race, ethnicity or color face different types of discrimination in the workplace, in educational institutions and in the outside world. It is very difficult to pinpoint or determine racial discrimination, especially in the workplace, as it can be heavily masked by other aspects of the person, such as inexperience or lack or innovation.

However, discrimination in every form is prohibited under every State and Federal law in the US. In every political system, there are different types of equality rules and laws that are found.

Civil, political, natural, and economic equality

Civil equality implies that every individual is subjected to enjoy the rights and liberations, as well as obligations of the same law living under the same State. Under this law, all citizens have to be treated equally regardless of caste, color, religion or belief.

According to political equality, all individuals and citizens of a Nation have equal political rights and equal access to all government offices. It also means that everyone has the right to form or to join a political party and contest in election.

Natural equality assumes that all people are born equal and free and endowed with the same talents. Social Equality implies that all citizens of a state or nation are free to enjoy all the opportunities offered in a society.

Economic equality means that all wealth should be enjoyed equally and by all. This concept is hugely favored in the Communist countries.

If all the laws of equality in the society are maintained, all citizens of all nations would live in perfect harmony with each other. However, that is not the case in most societies, where acute inequality prevails.