Elhum Haghighat


Women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) do not face a single social ideology that opposes change. It is incorrect to conclude that Islam per se is predominantly responsible for limiting women’s access to resources, employment, reproductive health, and social services. It is critical, however, to understand how Islam is used as an instrument of control in the hands of the governing elite; when expedient, Islam and historical traditions of patriarchy supply a framework and a justification for impeding or limiting women’s progress. At times, it has also been used in concert with government aims to slow population growth or secure female workers. Islam plays a role in regulating women’s social status, however, a multi-dimensional approach that assesses demographic changes, economic and political realities, and regional instability offers a broader insight into the issue of women’s status in the MENA region.

Author Biography

Elhum Haghighat, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science Chair, Department of Political Science Lehman College, The City University of New York