Gender identity and social change: the experience of female migrants from the MENA region

Yaghoob Foroutan, University of Mazandaran
Masoumeh Haghpanah, The Health Center of Babolsar

Using the status of women from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, this paper presents empirical observations to analyse the effects of migration on gender roles. The region is globally well-know by unique gender characteristics such as patriarchy, a typical pattern of male breadwinner model and women’s low employment level. The paper analyzes employment status of migrant women from the MENA region living in the multiethnic and multicultural setting of Australia where they often observe different gender characteristics including a high rate of women’s employment. This contrast provides the opportunity to examine whether this new experience and observation change their employment status upon migration. Moreover, due to the fundamental role of religion in the MENA region, the paper explains the association between religion (Islamic affiliation) and women status. Finally, the paper discusses plausible explanations for the observed patterns on the employment status of women from the MENA region.

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Presented in Session 126: Policies and approaches to gender and empowerment of women in the Arab world: achievements revisited