Economic gender equity: Fair and Square [Archives:2005/853/Viewpoint]

June 23 2005

The recent hype about the quota system and empowering women to be able to attain decision-making positions is creating a cultural shock for normal Yemeni men and women all the same. The Yemeni society is a male dominant one in which women's activities to a great extent are limited to the private sphere and linked to reproductive roles, while that of men are more relating to productive roles in the public sphere. As women are fighting their way into the public arena to become economically empowered, question marks are being raised as to what is the need for women to abandon their traditional role and dash into furious competition with men. Other questions are raised regarding the appreciation for women's contribution to the productive field and the consideration of the double burden women are carrying now being in both domains.

Suggestions are that certain stereotype jobs could be acceptable for women as long as women fulfil their original job in the house and family first. Enraged by this suggestion feminist groups and initiatives aiming at empowering women, thrash their wrath and demand equality with men, and the battle goes on

I believe that women are good in running the family and turning the house into a home, and that men are good in working long hard hours earning the bread. But I also believe that women's contribution to the productive world is a must and that there is dire need for women to participate effectively in the public sphere as much as I believe that it is crucial for men to lend a hand in domestic responsibilities and taking care of the family.

Since women should be working both inside and outside the house, their double burden should be appreciated. In the sense that, women's efforts in the reproductive sphere should also be paid, exactly just like how they are paid in the productive sphere. Women should be paid for their dedicating their time and energy cooking meals, cleaning the house and providing support to the husband, children and all family members. Consequently, as to not overwhelm women with the double burden, their working hours outside should complement their working hours at home to be equal to the total working hours of men.

Fair and square, and considering this, a question arises, if this theory to be implemented, then this means women will be working outside only part time where they will be paid for their labour, but who is going to pay for their efforts within the family. Surprisingly enough, the Islamic religion has already solved this issue and demanded that the man pays the woman for her time and energy spent to manage the family. Islam imposes on the man the responsibility to cover all the expenses the woman needs, whether basic or luxury (as much as he can afford) in addition to giving her allowances to spend on her self. Perhaps this would mean that men need to work long hard hours outside, get his income, take a portion for himself and hand the rest to his wife in appreciation for her hard work and hours spent taking care of the family. This is in addition to the wages she receives for her working outside (provided she wants to) and which are totally hers with no obligations whatsoever according to the Islamic jurisprudence.

Interesting isn't it? Sometimes we search for the solution everywhere and it is right there in front of our noses. If the people are to implement the Islamic preaching fairly then the whole economic gender equity issue would be solved, don't you think so? Please write back and let us know what you think.