Female-male enrolment rates in Malaysia and other islamic countries Essay

Female-male enrolment rates in malaysia and other islamic countriesIn this essay, I will discuss the high rates of enrolment of girls in schools and colleges compared to boys in Malaysia. I will also discuss the female-male enrolment rates in other Islamic countries and the reasons for the variations in these rates.The female-male enrolment rates for students in some Islamic countries are given in the table below.                                                           Gross Enrolment RatioPrimary school enrolment ratio 2000-2005, gross, malePrimary school enrolment ratio 2000-2005, gross, femaleSecondary school enrolment ratio 2000-2005, gross, maleSecondary school enrolment ratio 2000-2005, gross, femaleAfghanistan12756255Bangladesh1071114954Brunei1091099196Indonesia1181166464Iran981088479Malaysia94937181Nigeria107913831Pakistan95693123Saudi Arabia69667264Source: www.unicef.orgThe above statistics show that in Malaysia the enrolment ratio for girls as compared to boys is higher at secondary level compared to other Islamic countries. In most Islamic countries, the disparity between girls and boys at primary and secondary school level is very high.

The number of girls who drop out after completing grade V is even higher. Studies reveal that many Islamic countries of the Asian subcontinent are closer to achieving the gender parity targets. But, the gap between girls and boys in enrolment is significantly higher for African and Arab countries. However, a number of Arab countries have succeeded in narrowing the gap. In Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, and Oman, more girls are enrolled in primary schools compared to boys.

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The following countries have the most alarming gender statistics among the Islamic countries: Yemen (60 girls per 100 boys), Chad (67/100), Niger (68/100), Guinea-Bissau (71/100), Mali (72/100), and Cote d’Ivoire (73/100) (Investing in Children of the Islamic World, 2005).Education in Malaysia – In 2003, the Ministry of Education (MOE) of Malaysia passed the Education Act 1996. This act made compulsory the education of every child in Malaysia. This law stipulates that every Malaysian child, regardless of sex and age has the right to primary education.

In addition to this, the MOE has initiated programs to address the dropout problem, which exists in poor and remote areas. In Malaysia, male and female children have equal access to education. There is no discrimination amongst male and female children in terms of government policy, legislations, or resources. Both female and male children are taught the same curriculum and sit for the same public exams. The Ministry of Education of Malaysia provides 11 years of free basic schooling consisting of six years of primary, two years of lower secondary, and three years of upper secondary education. From a total of 8,696 schools in the country, there are only 70 primary and 131 secondary schools, which are non–coed educational. Female participation in schooling is higher than male participation. Only 75.

60 percent of males between ages 12+ to 16+ continue into public secondary schools. In contrast, 83.26 percent of females between ages 12+ to 16+ continue from primary to secondary schools (Malaysia: Education for All, 2001).Reasons for the High Disparities in Female-Male Enrolment Rates in Islamic Countries – Some of the main reasons for the high disparities in enrolment in Islamic countries are poverty, deep-rooted religious and cultural traditions, gender stereotypes within families, the prevalence of child labour, and the lack of suitable female role models in rural and poor urban communities in the Islamic world.

One of the main reasons is the secondary status of women in Islam. Though the holy book of Islam, the Quran, gives many rights to Muslim women, it gives the male privilege over the female in such matters as legal testimony, inheritance, and charge in the family. In rural and poor urban Muslim families in many Islamic countries, women are expected to cover themselves from head to toe in a “burqa” (head to toe veil) all the time, a women is not expected to venture out of the house or meet too many people. The general belief is that women have to marry, and look after their husbands and children and not work in an occupation. This is the stereotype that has been ingrained in the men since centuries.

In many such families, the boys are sent to primary or secondary schools and are trained for careers, but the women are not sent to schools and given knowledge of the Quran only. Women in Islamic countries are discriminated against. They are held in lower esteem than men. For example, women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive, leave the country without authorization from the husband or father, hold high-ranking jobs, or be involved in the government.

Conservative Muslims in these countries still believe that a woman will get spoilt on being educated, that she will become a loose woman. This is also a reason why many Muslim families don’t let their little girls go to school.  (Women in Islam, 2005). Poverty and child labour are also reasons for the poor enrolment of girls. In many poor Islamic countries of Africa, the families belonging to the poor and lower classes don’t have the resources to spend in the education of girl children. Such families often give preference to the education of boys over girls when it comes to spending their limited resources on education of their children.

Little girls are often put to some menial work such as farming, working as domestic servants, labourers to support their family at a young age.Status of Women in Following Islamic Countries –Malaysia – The status of women in Malaysia is not as backward as in some other South-East Asian and African countries. More Malaysian women pursue higher education compared to men. Women have better job opportunities than their counterparts in many western countries. There are Malaysian women who are heads of central banks, public prosecutors, and ambassadors. In today’s modernised Malaysian society, women experience more dignity at work and in public life, than at home. Over the past 25 years, there has been a resurgence of conservative Islamism in Malaysia. Women are pressurised to wear a headscarf at all times in public.

Malaysian laws allow a Muslim man to take up to four wives at the same time (Sisters in Islam, 2003). For Muslim women, laws regarding family, marriage, and divorce are formed by the Syariah Courts. For example, non-Muslim women have equal rights to guardianship, but Muslim women don’t have equal rights. Two states, Kelantan and Terengganu, have passed bills to impose Islamic criminal law, or Hudood. Under this, for example, women and girls face discrimination in case of rape. They must provide four male witnesses in such a case. If a rape victim is unable to prove it, she may be accused of making slanderous accusations or adultery. However, the federal government has continuously blocked the establishment of these laws till now (The Status of Women and Girls in Malaysia, 2004).

Indonesia – Women in Indonesia are comparatively well off than most other Islamic countries. Indonesian women have the right to own and sell property and livestock, to work, to choose when and to whom they get married, and to divorce. But, still Muslim women in Indonesia face many problems. Women are not given equal rights to speech, participation, inheritance of land and housing. Though, in the eyes of the law, men and women have equal rights.

In many areas of Indonesia, customary law, known as “adat” law still prevails (Kevane, Michael & Levine, David)Nigeria – Women in Nigeria continue to face discrimination and oppression. Regardless of whether they are rich or poor, urban or rural, educated and uneducated, they are oppressed and subjugated. According to the Nigerian Constitution, women have been granted many rights. However, these rights are not enforced due to religious, social, and economic pressures. Some inhumane practices prevalent in Nigeria are female genital mutilation, child marriage, widow inheritance, rape, and polygamy. About 60 percent of the sufferers of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria are women. It is a practice for girls to be married off at extremely young ages.

Trafficking of women is very common (Status of Women in Nigeria). However, there have been many improvements in the status of women in the recent years. By 1980, the percentage of women in Federal Civil Services had risen up to 12.6 percent. A large number of women are now found in all sorts of occupations such as law, teaching, medicine, business, politics and the armed forces (Werthmann, Katja).Afghanistan – The Taliban government fell in 2001.

But, even today, women and girls are subjected to oppression in Afghanistan. Today, 79 percent of Afghan women cannot read. The healthcare facilities for women are poor and Afghanistan today has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world. The maternal mortality rate is 1,600 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Women still fear going to school, working, travelling, or appearing without a burqa, a legacy of the Taliban days. Forced marriages, rape, abduction are the norm of the day and over the past year, girls schools have been bombed and set on fire. Rape of women and girls by armed groups continues to occur. The recently adopted Afghan constitution states that “the citizens of Afghanistan – whether man or woman- have equal rights and duties before the law”. Many women have been allowed to return back to work, they are no longer forced to wear the burqa at all times, and they even have been appointed to prominent positions in the government (No One Listens to Us, 2003).Saudi Arabia – Women in Saudi Arabia suffer a lot of discrimination due to religious traditions. Saudi Arabian women are not allowed to drive, leave the country without authorisation from their husband or father, leave the house in unsuitable attire, hold high-ranking jobs or be involved in the government.

Divorce laws in Saudi Arabia favour the men. Women’s rights in divorce are extremely limited. To gain a divorce, women must prove harm or fault by the spouse, be able to pay compensation, and face the risk of losing custody of children. They have to plead their case before an all-male judiciary. Women were excluded from participating in the municipal elections in 2005. The religious police (Mutawa’een) roam the streets monitoring women’s conduct, dress, or behaviour (Saudi Arabia, 2004).Pakistan – The Pakistani law states that “All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law.

There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone”. A female child in Pakistani is not a much “wanted” child. Women in Pakistan face several kinds of abuse at the hands of men, family members, and state agents. They are subjected to rape, domestic abuse in the form of spousal murder, mutilation, acid-attacks, and “honour killings.” This is the practice of killing a woman suspected of an illicit relationship and occurs in all parts of the country. Women who file charges of rape or sexual harassment are liable to be accused of illicit sex if they fail to prove the rape charges (Women in Islam, 2005).

However, recent years have witnessed an increasing number of women in well-paid professions and increased activism by feminist groups. Pakistan is the only country to have a female Major-General in the Army. It is the only country, besides Indonesia, to have women fighter pilots in its Air Force. Unfortunately, this is limited only to big cities.

In rural areas, tribal law holds sway rather than governmental law and this is where the most abuse of women’s rights takes place (Status of Women in Pakistan, 2006).Difference Between Islamic and Non-Islamic Countries with Regards to Education -Adult literacy rate, 2000-2004*, maleAdult literacy rate, 2000-2004*, femalePrimary school enrolment ratio 2000-2005*, gross, malePrimary school enrolment ratio 2000-2005*, gross, femalePrimary school attendance ratio (1996-2005*), net, malePrimary school attendance ratio (1996-2005*), net, femaleSecondary school enrolment ratio 2000-2005*, gross, maleSecondary school enrolment ratio 2000-2005*, gross, femaleSecondary school attendance ratio (1996-2005*), net, maleSecondary school attendance ratio (1996-2005*), net, femaleAfghanistan4313127566640255186Australia–103103–152145–Austria–106106–10498–Bahrain89841041048687961027785Belgium–104104–111107–Bhutan—-7367—-Canada–100100–109108–China9587118117–7373–Côte d’Ivoire61398063625332182016Czech Republic–103101–9596–Egypt835910398848290847368Ethiopia–10186332838241310France–105104–110111–Germany–100100–10199–Guinea-Bissau–845642362313107India7348120112797259475446Indonesia9487118116949564645456Iraq846410889847254363725Japan–100101–101102–Kazakhstan10099110109989999977376Pakistan6336956962513123–Qatar8989102101–9895–Tajikistan10099102978988897578Turkey95809690898890688585United Kingdom–107107–103106–United States–10098–9495–Brazil88891451379696971074250Congo, Democratic Republic of the81545146554924121815Nigeria–1079166583831–Source: www.unicef.orgThe above table gives the enrolment and attendance rates for various Islamic and non-Islamic countries. From this, we can see that for some Islamic countries the rates of enrolment for girls are extremely poor at primary and secondary levels. While for some countries like Egypt and Indonesia, the rates of enrolment for girls are comparable to developed countries.

The reasons for the low education rates of girls in some Islamic countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan is the religious beliefs and the inferior status of women in these countries. Women belonging to lower economic classes are not encouraged to study. The limited resources are spent on the studies of men, believing that the main purpose of a women’s life is to get married and bear children, while a man has to support the family. Islam imposes restrictions on women like purdah, unequal inheritance rights, and unequal say in family matters. In many countries, especially in poor social classes, Muslim women are not allowed to step out of the house, show their face to outsiders, or to work outside the house. In many countries, women accused of committing adultery are publicly stoned to death. These regressive traditions and customs against women become more pronounced in uneducated and poor social classes.

In more developed Islamic countries like Egypt, Indonesia, and Kazakhstan, the enrolment rates of women are comparable to those of developed countries. This is so because in these countries, the economy is better. Men are more educated and thus more aware of the world and the new developments in the world. Being more educated, they have learnt about the error in suppressing women and relegating them as second-class citizens. Due to the better economic status, more money is spent on the education of women in these countries and more women attend universities and colleges compared to other Islamic countries.

Thus, we see that economic status of a country as well as religious traditions both play an important role in determining the education levels of women in these countries. Religions like Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism are more liberal towards women. In Christianity and Hinduism, women and men are considered equal. Women are not required to cover themselves up all the time. Women are given equal rights in inheritance, right to own land, and say in family matters.

Position of Women in Malaysia versus Other Islamic and Non-Islamic Countries – The position of women in Malaysia is comparatively better off compared to some Islamic countries like Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Women in Nigeria are still married off at young ages, 60 percent of HIV/AIDS victims are women. Very less numbers of Nigerian women receive secondary or tertiary education and the women work force is also very less.

Compared to this, in Malaysia the percentage of women who receive secondary or tertiary education is even more than men. Women in Malaysia can be found working at very high posts. Poverty in Malaysia is not so rampant that women have to take to prostitution, as compared to Nigeria. If we compare the status of women in Malaysia to the status of women in Afghanistan or Pakistan, we will find that the lot of Malaysian women is definitely better than the lot of women in these countries. Afghan women have the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world.

Afghan women have to suffer forced marriages, rape, and abduction routinely. But, this is not the case in Malaysia. About 57 percent of Afghan women are married off before the age of 16.

In contrast, this is not the fate suffered by Malaysian women.Compared to western women, Malaysian women can be said to be little disadvantaged. Malaysian women do not have the freedom that the western women have. In the west, women can marry or divorce as they please.

Western women do not have to wear a headscarf at all times, unlike Malaysian women. Malaysian men can take up to four wives at a time. For Malaysian Muslim women, laws regarding marriage, divorce, and family matters are governed by the Syariah courts. But, for western women, the laws regarding marriage, divorce, and family matters are governed by the judiciary.

Malaysian Muslim women do not have equal rights to guardianship, but women in most western countries have equal rights as men to guardianship. Malaysian Muslim women face discrimination in rape laws. The women have to bring up to four witnesses to prove the rape has occurred, otherwise she may be accused of adultery. However, in most western countries this is not the case. The women are not accused of adultery if she is not able to produce witnesses.ReferencesInvesting in Children of the Islamic World.

[Internet], Nov 2005, Available from: <http://www.unicef.org/publications/index_28182.html> [Accessed 14 Dec 2006].

Kevane, Michael & Levine, David. The Changing Status of Daughters in Indonesia. [Internet] Available from <faculty.haas.berkeley.

edu/levine/papers/changing%20status%20of%20daughters.pdf> [Accessed 15 Dec 2006}Sisters in Islam in Malaysia. [Internet], 2003, Available from <http://www.qantara.de/webcom/show_article.php/_c-307/_nr-20/_p-1/i.html?PHPSESSID=5869> [Accessed 14 Dec 2006]No One Listens to us and No One Treats us as Human Beings.

[Internet] Oct 2003, Available from <http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGASA110232003> [Accessed 15 Dec 2006]Malaysia: Education for All. [Internet], Nov 2001, Available from < http://www.

unescobkk.org/fileadmin/user_upload/appeal/gender/MALAYSIAeducationforall.doc> [Accessed 15 Dec 2006].

Saudi Arabia: Women’s Exclusion From Elections Undermines Progress. [Internet] Nov 2004, Available from <http://news.amnesty.org/index/ENGMDE230152004> [Accessed 15 Dec 2006]Status of Women in Nigeria.

[Internet] Available from <www.siu.edu/~wid/project/Nigeria/STATUS%20OF%20WOMEN%20IN%20NIGERIA.pdf> [Accessed 14 Dec 2006]The Status of Women and Girls in Malaysia. [Internet], July 2004, Available from <http://hrw.

org/reports/2004/indonesia0704/4.htm> [Accessed 15 Dec 2006]The Status of Women in Pakistan. [Internet] Available from http://www.crescentlife.com/articles/social%20issues/status_of_women_in_pakistan.htm [Accessed 15 Dec 2006]Women in Islam: Veiled Oppression or Stigmatised Misconception. [Internet], Nov 2005, Available from < http://www.

bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A6359123> [Accessed 14 Dec 2006].

Werthmann, K. The Example of Nana Asmau. [Internet] Available from <http://www.inwent.org/E+Z/content/archive-eng/03-2005/foc_art3.html> [Accessed 14 Dec 2006] 


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