Despite commitments by the Arabian Gulf countries to promote gender equality and policies of nondiscrimination against women, the underrepresentation of women in the political sphere remains unchanged. Using the case of the Sultanate of Oman, this paper endeavors to analyze the reasons behind the persistent political disempowerment of women in the Middle East and North African region through the lens of public opinion. The findings are based on 288 surveys conducted with two groups of participants – a group of undergraduate and postgraduate students majoring in political science, and a group of Omani citizens with no political education. These findings confirm the impact of both formal (government driven) and informal (socio-cultural) factors resulting in the low level of political empowerment of Omani women. By exploring public opinion formed towards women’s political empowerment in the country, it was observed that respondents who majored in political science demonstrated a lower degree of gender bias compared to citizens with no education in political science. Socio-demographic variables such as the age and level of education of both groups did not show any significant impact on either reducing or increasing gender bias. However, a positive correlation between gender and citizens’ opinions was observed. While politically educated respondents, regardless of their gender, maintained a positive attitude towards women and their participation in politics, male respondents from the general public group exhibited elevated levels of bias against the need for women’s political empowerment. The study shows that gender bias is neutralized when mediated by the variable of political awareness. The findings also suggest that an increase in the level of political awareness among citizens might be considered as a positive intervention needed for changing public opinion in favour of the political empowerment of women.
Dauletova, Victoria; Hassan, Houchang; and Zainab Hussain, Yari
"Political Empowerment of Women and the Mediating Role of Political Awareness:The Case of Oman,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 23:
1, Article 11.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol23/iss1/11