Gender Roles in Islamic Society

Islam does not discriminate against women. But Muslims do. And in my opinion, Muslims do so for two main reasons: One reason is the assumption that has become entrenched in Muslim societies over many centuries that women are intellectually inferior beings and this is why men can make decisions on their behalf. The second reason is that women were virtually excluded from the public domain a long time ago. As a result, when women do enter the public domain, they are put under a lot of pressure.

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Islam does not discriminate against women. But Muslims do. And in my opinion, Muslims do so for two main reasons: One reason is the assumption that has become entrenched in Muslim societies over many centuries that women are intellectually inferior beings and this is why men can make decisions on their behalf. The second reason is that women were virtually excluded from the public domain a long time ago. As a result, when women do enter the public domain, they are put under a lot of pressure. Often Muslim women are afraid to make decisions. Opinion leaders and ulema in Muslim societies have collectively agreed that women belong inside the house because they make poor decisions under pressure, so this proves that they should not be making decision related to the public sphere. This reasoning is a self-fulfilling prophecy: something happens because we expect it to happen, or believe it to be true (see endnote 1). In organisational behaviour, this is taught as part of staff motivation: how our expectations of individuals affect their behaviour and performance. Women in Muslim societies make poor decision because we expect them to make poor decision and don’t empower them to make better decisions, not because there is a problem with their intellect.

 

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