Women in Muslim countries have in a decade achieved what took fifty years in the US. Watch this really short video with Saadia Zahidi, Senior Director of The World Economic Forum, about how during the last ten years 40 million more women have started careers
What Saadia Zahidi says in the video speaks for itself.
Her statement that probably surprised most of you is that the percentage of women that study at universities is higher in Saudi Arabia than in China, India and Brazil. Are you aware that there are 800 million Muslim women in the world? That’s more than the combined population of Brazil, Russia and the United States. And they are swiftly, compared to how long it took us in the West, starting to work.
Many women in the Muslim world want to be part of the economy, work and contribute to society. They don’t want to be educated and then sit at home and do nothing. Lubna Olayan, pictured above, is just one famous example of a successful Saudi business woman. Sure her mother was American but her father was Saudi and in KSA the father is firmly in charge. Lubna Olayan is not allowed to drive a car in her home country but she is nevertheless the CEO of one of the largest corporations in Saudi Arabia.
There’s more to Saudi woman than not being allowed to drive
Am personally really tired of Western, not least Swedish, well meaning people lamenting how women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive. Positive facts about how things are steadily improving is never mentioned. Have written extensively about competent Saudi women in my articles Saudi women – a force to be reckoned with and What a wonderful surprise – Saudi women will vote! At the moment female volunteers from mainly Lebanon are coaching Saudi women about how to vote in local elections. One of the main objectives is to avoid that male patriarchs of the family decide who the women should vote for which is what happened in Palestine, Egypt and Iraq.
Muslim women used to be prominent
The Prophet Mohammed’s first wife, Khadija, was a really successful business woman and the first person who converted to Islam. Women have traditionally been held in high esteem in the Muslim world and still are. But quite a few Muslim countries developed into patriarchies and, unlike the first Muslim woman Khadija, women started staying at home. But now women are increasingly going to work in all Muslim countries.
ISIS turning women into slaves
Isn’t it lamentable that now when women are getting a renaissance in all Muslim countries apocalyptic fundamentalist organisations like ISIS are turning women into slaves, even selling them at auctions.
And what’s surprising is that some Muslim women in the West move to Syria to marry jihadists from mainly ISIS. They cover every millimeter of themselves in black the way most educated Saudi men detest. Covering women from head to toe has nothing to do with Islam but is a custom from the Arabian Peninsula.
So we have two contradicting developments for Muslim women. One positive trend versus a crime against women. The good news is that out of the 800 million Muslim women world-wide only a minute fraction are in areas ruled by organisations such as ISIS. So there is a renaissance for almost all Muslim women apart from a small number who are affected by ISIS and their life is a nightmare unless they believe in Daesh‘s apocalyptic vision.
Were you aware that 40 million more women in Muslim countries have started working during the last decade? Did you know that the percentage of women in Saudi Arabia that attend universities is higher than in China, India and Brazil? Do you think it’s positive that Saudi women can vote in local elections and even run as candidates? Isn’t what ISIS is doing to women horrendous? Would you like to see more Muslim women have fulfilling careers? Do you agree that it’s a good idea to make that happen step by step? Considering that development for women in the Muslim countries is much faster than it was in the West, how long do you think it will take before another 100 million women start working?
Video: McKinsey & Company – Picture: World Economic Forum