The Relationship between Gender Equality and Democracy

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The relationship between the Islamic world and the West is centered around conflicts that involve equal treatment of women rather than democratic governance. In the paper, “the Relationship Between Gender Equality and Democracy”, the author’s state, “…found that citizens of Muslim societies are significantly less supportive of equal rights and opportunities for women and have significantly less permissive attitudes toward homosexuality, abortion and divorce than those living in Western, democratic countries.” (Rizzo, Helen, et al. pg1152) These ideas are explored from a personal point of view by Qanta A.

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Ahmed in her novel, “In the Land of Invisible Women.”

The story follows a younger Qanta A. Ahmed, a British Muslim doctor, who is offered a new job in Saudi Arabia, a desert country that surrounds the majority of the Arabian Peninsula as well as the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf coastlines. This job opportunity gives her excitement about a potential journey she thinks she can go on. Going into Saudi Arabia, she thinks she will understand how their society is and she starts to gain hope of being accepted by Saudi Arabians with open arms. However, her discoveries become, over time, much more complex. She “already wanted an exit from the intense isolation” (Qanta, 43).

What is the difference, the conflict, between Muslim countries and the west. In the west the culture is based on secularism and individuality. In Saudi Arabia the culture is based on conformity to Sharia (religious) law and the status of men over women. Give an example. This studies compares is the differences between Arab and non-Arab societies as examined in the study World Values 2000 regarding respondents’ religious identification and how it equates with support for democracy and views toward gender equality (Rizzo, 1155). But is not that patriarchal communities are against women’s rights, they also tend to be against, “homosexuality, abortion and divorce” (Rizzo, 1152).

It is fact that Muslim countries have higher rates of illiteracy for females in comparison to women in western democracies and are severely underrepresented, if at all, in government. The method that these researchers use was to collect data from the world value survey, which was collected between 1999 and 2003. The data they collected was from five different measurements: Support for Democracy, Support for Gender Equality, Cultural and Normative Orientations, Orientations Toward Liberal Democratic Practices and Social Status and Demographics (Rizzo, pgs. 1156-1157, 1159).

This article highlights that there is a zone that is “characterized by the lowest status of women” in countries such as North Africa, the Muslim Middle East, Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, South and East Asia, India and China” (Rizzo, pg. 1154). This zone also has the characteristics of “low status, high fertility rates, low age at first marriage, high maternal and infant mortality” (Rizzo, pg. 1154).

Works Cited

  1. Rizzo, Helen, et al. “The Relationship Between Gender Equality and Democracy: A Comparison of Arab Versus Non-Arab Muslim Societies.” Sociology, vol. 41, no. 6, 2007, pp. 1151–1170. Sage Journals, British Sociological Association, doi:10.1177/0038038507082320.
  2. Ahmed, Qanta. In the Land of Invisible Women: a Female Doctor’s Journey in the Saudi Kingdom. Sourcebooks, 2008.”
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The Relationship Between Gender Equality and Democracy. (2019, Jul 10). Retrieved from