The frustrating path of women’s education
The education of Muslim women has ebbed and flowed through the past 20 years and, though frustrating, the backwards steps do not undermine the steps forward. It is also difficult to assess the education of Muslim women, since it differs greatly from region to region — likewise from family to family.
The rise of the Taliban in the 1990s led to a massive corrosion of a woman’s right to education. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Taliban forced professional women to give up their jobs. Girls were prohibited from attending school. A general edict was issued that Muslims girls need not learn writing — reading was more than enough.
In September 2006, UNESCO recorded startling statistics in their study of adult literacy rates and illiterate population by country/ gender.1 In Egypt, only 59.4 per cent of women were considered literate, with numbers getting lower and lower as one reads down the list of Middle-Eastern countries: Morocco, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen. UNESCO reported that in some places, the gap between literate males and females was as high as 90 per cent.
However, the present day is in some ways less bleak. University students in Iraq and United Arab Emirates are predominantly female. In Muslim countries such as Turkey, Malaysia, and Indonesia, female education rarely rears its head as an issue — if ever. The fight in some countries still continues though. Iran recently banned women from over 70 different degree courses.
Many Muslims are pushing toward a better future however. Journalist Neelofar Haram writes, “What is certain is that unless societal leaders and modern opinion makers pay some attention to this problem, a lot of social frustration and pain is in store for everyone. For, if mothers, daughters, and sisters remain behind, can fathers, sons and brothers go forward?”
* Pray for efforts to build schools for girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pray for protection for girls attending school in locations where they can be harassed or threatened for doing so.
* Pray for those who advocate on behalf of women’s education in Muslim nations, for protection, courage and opportunities to promote their cause.
Posted on Fri, July 26, 2013
by Donna Shiflett