Educated Women are lost treasure [Archives:2006/914/Reportage]

January 23 2006
Photo from archived article: photos/914/report1_1
Photo from archived article: photos/914/report1_1
Photo from archived article: photos/914/report1_2
Photo from archived article: photos/914/report1_2
By: Fatma Moh`d Al- Ajel
It is of no doubt that education is important for both genders. Educated people are a national resource and a treasure that every country works to gain. It is also obvious that quality education advances communities economically, politically, culturally tc. Since society is made of both man and woman, it important that both are well educated, and hence are capable in developing their society. Consequently, schools, universities, and other educational institutes are established for both males and females.

Society and educated women

However, in third world countries such as Yemen, women are still suffering from discrimination when it comes to educational opportunities. In our country, some people associate education with mainly males because the Yemen is a male dominating society. On the other hands, women no matter how educated remain subjected men's control and are not allowed to feel responsible, respected and self-assured. The society judges educated women, that they only strive to achieve high positions in the community or imitate foreign women in their pursue of education and not for education itself.


This conception is spread among both uneducated and educated Yemeni men. They miss out on the real meaning of education for women. Most men believe that women go out to educational institutions in order to escape from the house confinement, and to enjoy their time away from domestic chores and in some cases to look for husbands.

Why some men refuse to marry educated women

There are rumors that many educated men decline to marry educated women because they believe educated girls have had relations with their male classmates and they must have fallen in love. Others say that educated women have strong characters and they love authority. Therefore, men prefer to marry an uneducated woman and it is even better if she is from village so that they can dominate and control their wives.

It is tragic to find such thinking in 21st century especially when it comes from highly educated men. Over 55% of university students in Yemen are females and this shows the large number of educated women. It also shows an encouraging trend towards educating females in this country. Yet in spite of this high percentage many Yemeni men in our society still refuse to marry educated women because of traditional typical old fashion reasoning. What Yemeni men forget when they adopt this attitude is that of this 50% of educated women there are their family members whether sister, daughter or relative and those women would be discriminated against in the marriage decision.

Women build the society

There is an Arabic proverb that indicates to the importance of educating and well raising the woman because she is will become the mother who raises the next generations. People, including men always repeat this proverb every time and everywhere, but they don't realize its significance. Because if you need to invest in the woman to breed better generations then how can this be achieved without educating women?

Women's double role

Mothers are in essence women, regardless of their education level. So if the society ignores educating women, this will lead to having illiterate mothers who will be unqualified to teach and educated their children. An educated mother is the reason for potential female doctors and teachers or educated females in general. Educating women is not just about producing female doctors or teachers it includes women in all their roles in the society, especially as a mother.

The challenge

Most Yemeni women realize the importance of education. They want to improve themselves and develop their society although they know that by doing so their chances of getting marriage will be less. A student in the university said to me when I asked her why she is studying knowing that she might not get married: ” I will not waste my time waiting at home for the future husband. I have to study and improve my self for my sake first and second for my society.”

It seems that lately men started to think seriously about this phenomenon. Ali Mohamed is an accountant commented on this by saying “I regret getting married to an uneducated woman. Ten years ago I disapproved of marrying educated women and I preferred my wife to be illiterate. Now when that my children have grown who go to school, I couldn't find someone to tutor them and attend to their studies especially when I am always busy with my business. I confess that it is my mistake.”

There are many examples in the society that show the selfishness of men when they only think of their own pleasure and don't take the marriage decision seriously. An ironic discovery is that men who marry more than once tend to choose their second wife of higher education than the first. It seems that men had suffered from the illiteracy of their first wives. Yahay is a professor in media who said: “my first wife is illiterate, she couldn't adapt with my community, my kids are not good in their studies. I decided to get married again, but this time I'll marry an educated woman who can understand my needs.”

Victims of selfishness

When the husband works most the time outside the house and the wife is illiterate then the victims of this situation will be the children. Consequence of this, in addition to the feeble education system, is the low standard of students, as sometimes students in upper grades barely know how to read and write. Nabila is a teacher in a public school, she explained: “I can guess the educational levels of the parents through the performance of their children in class. I face a lot of difficulties with students who have illiterate mothers or parents.” She added.

Another woman, a uneducated mother for three kids said: “my children study in a private school, they have to study English, computer, math and other subjects. I can do nothing to help them and it Is almost impossible to follow their study progress. The problem is that their father is uneducated as well.”

Mrs. Nawal a doctor's wife said, “my husband spends money on tutors and private lessons without use, no one can fill in for the mother.”

The contrast

In some rare cases, we find the families where the husband is uneducated while his wife is. The mother looks after her children's education and follows their schoolwork. Even as their father is not well educated because of their mothers the children are not affected much.

Mohammed is uneducated man, he just studied up to grade ten. He married a university graduate who works as a teacher. Mohammed talks about his experience by saying: “I have no idea about my children's study because my wife is the one responsible for their education. I work outside most the time but really my kid's grades are excellent, it is because of the hard work of my wife. She work inside the house as a mother and a teacher in the same time.”

Men have to be serious about their marriage decisions and not indulge in selfish attitudes. Both men and women have to discard harmful ancient thinking and become farsighted in order to have a better future for their children. Our community needs all the help it can get to improve and live up to the international standards of the developed world.