Monday, February 1, 2010

Emirati Women & Education

Sorry if my posts focus on women a lot. I am very interested in the role of women in this country----and I'm not alone. I always find that when someone from the US questions me about living here, one of the first things they want to know is about the women and their role in society. I guess I am no exception.

I read another article in the Gulf News regarding women and education. The article talked about the large number of young Emirati women that will not seek employment after completing a college degree. Figures report that 25% of female graduates from Zayed University do not enter the workforce. Another college reported 30% while 90% of it's 6,000 male graduates will. One interesting point made in the article......."some argue the education of these Emirati women still contributes to the development of UAE society by turning out better mothers." The article stated the women are better educated mothers and will have higher expectations for their children and this would contribute to the UAE society.

After further reading, I discovered the main reason for the lack of desire to go into the workforce was not that the women did not want to work, but their families do not want them to work in a mixed workplace. If they can find employment in a female only environment, then that is okay. It is also a problem when the husband does not have a college degree. He finds it difficult to accept the fact his wife is more educated than him. So he discourages her from going to school or obtaining a more advanced college degree. Family pressure is also a contributing factor. Many families still do not want their daughters around men. The reason for this mentality is cultural, "particularly given the damaging accusations often made by UAE men themselves which could ultimately affect a girl's reputation." One man was quoted that he can't support girls working in a mixed environment because of the mughazala (Arabic for flirting).

I am thinking the UAE (and maybe the Middle East in general) still has a long way to go to break through these cultural barriers. Women are held back here because of cultural habits and traditions even though the UAE is considered more westernized.

This makes me value my freedom as a woman even more. I think sometimes, as American women, we do not realize the value of this freedom because for the last generations we have not known any different. The women of this country are struggling with the same issues American women struggled with 50 years ago. I am not sure our American culture had as many difficult barriers as Muslim women. We are very fortunate as Women of America.


  1. Lovely blog. Travelling has always been my passion and dream. Haven't been here. Yet. Although I am a big fan of the UAE, I feel out-dated when reading interesting posts like this. I still see a positive improvement in the women in UAE today.

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  2. Interesting article! Blessed to be in America for sure. Hopefully one day the women overseas will have the same freedoms.