In a nutshell
- Gender inequality constrains the economic development of Arab countries.
- The level of gender inequality varies significantly between Arab countries, and depends, inter alia, on state policies concerned with female education, labor force participation, legal recognition, and protection.
- The position of women has fluctuated significantly in the recent history of Arab states; women had more rights in states that deployed secular (pan-Arab, nationalist) ideology in the post-colonial period.
- Citizens of such countries who were in their “formative years” (15-25 years old) in that period support gender equality until now and are the most egalitarian generation in their societies.
- The most patriarchal Arab states have never experienced gender egalitarian policies (or secular regimes). Their youth is slightly more gender egalitarian than the elderly, but the change between generations is a lot smaller compared to the rest of the world.
- The policies that support female education and labor force participation and protect female legal rights have a durable, although not immediate, effect that can be traced decades after their implementation; they change the attitudes, values, and life opportunities of a whole generation, even if they last for only a decade or slightly more.
- The policy effect gets particularly strong when the members of the affected generation reach their prime age and become politically powerful.
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