Society needs both men and womenSetting the gender issue straight [Archives:2003/692/Opinion]

December 8 2003

By Amal al-Hanhaneh
For The Yemen Times

The relationship between man and woman in the society has always been subject to a longstanding controversy, particularly in Yemeni society. Each gender gives itself an importance and effect and influence in the progress of the society more than the other one, as if they are in competition.
The woman brings forward evidence to prove her more importance and stronger influence in the society and on the other hand the man offers his own arguments and evidence in this regard. It is really a mater deserves discussion and clarification and dissemination of awareness particularly among the majority of the people because it is a question of interest not only among the intelligentsia but mainly among the majority of the people as a whole.
It is the majority of the ordinary people that hold wrong ideas about the role of both man and woman in the society and those ideas are the cause of the imbalanced relationship between man and woman in the society. I want in this short article to put this question on the table of discussion because it plays a great role in our life.
Women constitute half of the society and in some societies the proportion exceeds that percentage, as is the case in our Yemeni society. Nevertheless, it is found even among the intellectuals that some of them do not recognize her importance other than a housewife raising children and taking care of them and the entire household.
They ignore her role outside the house by underestimating her potentials and mental capabilities and creativity in various fields even in those that men think they are exclusive for them. This is really an injustice done to women, who in many societies proved to be no less capable than man in all walks of life. The family as the most important component of the society, and the most significant establishment in it, the major role in running it is upon the shoulders of the woman.
And the man is incapable to have the same patience and endurance the woman entertains in running the affairs of the family. In addition to that sacred role the woman also plays a recognized role outside the family sphere as she proved to be successful teachers, doctors, engineers and in other areas of social development activities.
She is the mother of the society and does more than one role; her job as a housewife and her role in the development of the society whereas man's role is mainly outside the family sphere.
Moreover ever the successes scored by man are imprints of women who help in their ideas and encourage them in the accomplishment of those successes. And thus in many cases she is behind his success. Her great responsibility in providing stable and happy life inside the family is in itself an effective factor in man's success. She is an indispensable energy possessing an indispensable role.
Religiously, the Islam has given the woman a very high status in the society and our prophet Mohammed, the messenger of God has always looked with high appreciation and respect to the woman. We as Muslims have to take his attitude towards the woman as an example to follow. Our prophet has never dispensed with consulting his wives and sometimes in major questions regarding the policy towards Muslims and Islam.
Our glorious history has abundance of examples of great women successful in various aspects of life; in politics, religion, education and fighting beside their brothers men. So why we don't follow the example of our prophet Mohammed and the great Muslim leaders, who have built the greatest Muslim nation, the world over? Why do not we relinquish the backward ideas and impressions we have built up upon generations of backwardness and be fair to our women and society?
The intelligentsia and sociologists have to do their hardest job in enlightening the society about the mutual role played by both men and women in building an advanced society where both men and women are equal in importance and roles played in life.