Empowering Women, Developing Society: Female Education in the Middle East and North Africa


Female education
Middle East
North Africa

How to Cite

Roudi-Fahimi, F., & Moghadam, V. M. (1). Empowering Women, Developing Society: Female Education in the Middle East and North Africa. Al-Raida Journal, 4-11. https://doi.org/10.32380/alrj.v0i0.221


Education is a key part of strategies to improve individuals' well-being and societies' economic and social development. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) (countries and territories included in the Middle East and North Africa as defined here are listed in Table 1), access to education has improved dramatically over the past few decades, and there have been a number of encouraging trends in girls' and women's education (see Figure 1). Primary school enrolment is high or universal in most MENA countries, and gender gaps in secondary school enrolment have already disappeared in several countries. Women in MENA countries are also more likely to enrol in universities than they were in the past.



United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Arab Human Development Report 2002 (New York: UNDP, 2002): 54.

United Nations (UN), Universal Declaration of Human Rights (New York: UN, 1948); and United Nations, International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (New York: UN, 1994): para. 4.18.

United Nations, Platform of Action, Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, China, 4-15 September 1995 (New York: UN, 1996): para. 69; and United Nations, The Beijing Declaration (New York: UN, 1996): paras. 13, 14, and 17.

UN, "Millennium Development Goals: About the Goals, accessed online at www.developmentgoals.org/About_the_goals.htm, on May 15, 2003.

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics, Financing Education — Investments and Returns, Analysis of the World Education Indicators, 2002 Edition: Executive Summary, accessed online at

http://portal.unesco.org/uis/TEMPLATE/pdf/wei/WEI_ExecSummary_Eng.pdf, on April 1, 2003.

Willem van Eeghen and Kouassi Soman, "Poverty in the Middle East and North Africa" (1997), accessed online at www.worldbank.

org/mdf/mdf1/menapoor.htm, on Jan. 6, 2003.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), State of World Population 2002: People, Poverty, and Possibilities (New York: UNFPA, 2002).

Daisy Dwyer and Judith Bruce, eds., A Home Divided: Women and Income in the Third World (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1988).

Valentine M. Moghadam, Women, Work, and Economic Reform in the Middle East and North Africa (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1998).

Valentine M. Moghadam, Modernizing Women: Gender and Social Change in the Middle East, 2d ed. (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003); and Massoud Karshenas and Valentine M. Moghadam, "Female Labor Force Participation and Economic Adjustment in the MENA Region," in The Economics of Women and Work in the Middle East and North Africa, ed. Mine Cinar (Amsterdam, Netherlands: JAI Press, 2001): 51-74.

Fatma El-Zanaty and Ann Way, Egypt Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) 2000 (Calverton, MD: Ministry of Health and Population [Egypt], National Population Council, and ORC Macro, 2001): tables 15.10 and 15.3.

El-Zanaty and Way, Egypt DHS, 2000: tables 4.9, 5.9, and 8.4.

Turkey Demographic and Health Survey 1998 Final Report (Ankara, Turkey, and Calverton, MD, USA: Hacettepe University, Institute of Population Studies, and ORC Macro, 1999): table 3.9.

El-Zanaty and Way, Egypt DHS, 2000: tables 9.9 and 11.5.

El-Zanaty and Way, Egypt DHS, 2000: table 5.5.

United Nations, The World's Women 2000: Trends and Statistics, accessed online at http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/

ww2000/table5d.htm, on March 27, 2003.

Institute for Women's Studies in the Arab World, "Female Labor Force in Lebanon," Al-Raida 15, no. 82 (1998): 12-23.

Kevin R. Taecker, "Myths and Realities About Unemployment in Saudi Arabia," Saudi-American Forum Essay 11 (March 30, 2003), accessed online at www.saudi-american-forum.org/Newsletters/SAF_Essay_11.htm, on April 1, 2003.

UNFPA et al., "Simaie Jameeat va Salamat dar Johmorie Eslamie Iran," Mehrmah 1379 (Tehran, Iran: UNFPA, 2000): table 3.4.

Statistical Center of Iran, Iran Statistical Yearbook 1379 (Tehran, Iran: Statistical Center of Iran, 2001): table 2.2.

UNESCO, UNESCO Statistical Yearbook 1999 (Paris: UNESCO, 1999): table II.2.

May Rihani and Cynthia Prather, Strategies for Female Education in the Middle East and North Africa (Amman, Jordan: United Nations Children's Fund, 1993).

World Bank, Engendering Development — Through Gender Equality in Rights, Resources, and Voice (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2001): 90-91.

UNDP, Arab Human Development Report 2002: 53-54.


Download data is not yet available.