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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Summary of ‘Women’s Rights and Democracy in the Arab World’ by Marina Ottaway According to Ottaway (3), the US has recently been involved in tireless efforts to modernize the Arab world. The empowerment of women and the promotion of their rights have been key elements of the campaigns done by the US to democratize and transform the society in the Arab world…
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Download file to see previous pages A good example of such support is a publication called the Arab Human Development Report 2002, released by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). This report was signed by numerous intellectuals from the Arab world, signifying that there was a deficit in women’s empowerment in the region. It painted a miserable picture of the Arab world, depicting it as a region that lagged behind the rest of the world as a result of lack of women’s education, empowerment and freedom. According to the report, the deficit in empowering women in the Arab world was to blame for the backwardness of the region (Ottaway 3). The report also notes that the economic and political capabilities of women in the Arab world are the least utilized in the whole world. This is evidenced by the low number of women parliamentarians, low number of women in cabinet, and the low number of women in the work force. The article notes that society suffers a great deal when a large section of its productive members are stifled and denied the opportunity to exercise their potential. These sentiments have further been echoed by President Bush and his administration officials. President Bush was quoted in May 2003 saying that, “no society can succeed and prosper while denying basic rights to the women of their country.” His secretary of state at that time, Colin Powell, echoed his comments by saying that, “until the countries of the Middle East unleash the abilities and potential of their women, they will not build a future of hope” (Ottaway 3). The article further notes that it is easy for the US to announce its goal of promoting the rights of women in the Arab world. This has not been a very easy task to accomplish. However, many Arab nations are taking small concrete steps to show their commitment to the promotion of women’s rights. Many Arab nations are accepting to empower women in small projects that do not threaten the rulers of their regimes. They are doing this to demonstrate their willingness to modernize and democratize. They seem to think that promoting the rights of women to some extent cannot be seen as a threat to the authoritarian governments that rule the region. Therefore, many governments have been seen to take small and concrete steps such as occasionally appointing a woman to a high and noticeable position, and introducing major amendments to family and divorce laws. This has made it relatively easier and cheaper for the US and other countries keen on promoting democracy to promote the rights of women in the Arab world. This has been achieved through encouraging education for girls, providing training for women seeking elective and public offices, and funding NGOs that support the empowerment of women (Ottaway 3). Unfortunately, despite all the efforts being made to promote the rights of women in the Arab world, there are many facile assumptions that have been generated by the process. The assumptions have brought about a lot of confusion about the real conditions of women in the Middle East, the true nature of the problems that they face, and the relationship between democracy and women’s rights. The main aim of the author of the article, Marina Ottaway, was to clarify these issues. Some of the assumptions that ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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