Gender Equality in the Mind of Men in the MENA

Gender Equality in the Mind of Men in the MENA

© Photo: IFC World Bank Group.


A study shows that only a quarter of men in Arab majority societies support gender equality. The patriarchal nature of these societies comes as no surprise to most of us. Despite it being widely criticised, especially by those who have grown up in the region, there’s been little to no research done to prove its existence.

That’s not to say that patriarchy isn’t real unless we do the research to back it, or that there hasn’t been progress made to push for gender equality. In the last two years alone, we’ve seen Saudi Arabia finally grant women the right to drive, we’ve witnessed Morocco’s criminalisation of sexual harassment, and a proposal of equal inheritance laws in Tunisia.

All these legislative changes are great indicators of a desire to change patriarchal attitudes, but we can’t push for equality if we don’t understand the ways in which patriarchal attitudes have weaved themselves in to our societies.

The UN Women collaborated with Promundo—a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting for gender equality—to release the largest ever study exploring patriarchy in the Middle East and North Africa. Taking a comparative lens to the lives of men – as sons and husbands and fathers, at home and at work, in public and private life – the study aims to better understand how they see their positions as men, and their attitudes and actions toward gender equality. Researchers interviewed 10,000 men in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, and Palestine to paint a clearer picture of their views on gender equality—and here are five things they concluded.

Only a quarter of men in these countries support at least some dimensions of women’s equality and empowerment.

Those who do, often hold higher levels of education and come from higher socio-economic backgrounds.

66-90 per cent of men expect a level of control over their wives (what they wear and where they go).

Over 70 per cent of men and women believe that wives should tolerate violence to keep the family together.

50 per cent of men say they support women’s right to work outside of the home, but only if they remain the primary breadwinners in their households.

A modified version of the original article published in Mille World

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