On the compatibility of Islam and gender equality : Effects of modernization, state Islamization, and democracy on women's labor market participation in 45 Muslim countries
SourceSocial Indicators Research, 90, 3, (2009), pp. 503-522
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR SOC
FSW_IGS Institute for Gender Studies
Social Indicators Research
SubjectDynamics of gender
Although the Muslim world is sometimes depicted as a homogeneous civilization lacking democracy and gender equality, Muslim countries show tremendous economic, political and cultural variation. In this paper, this variation is used to gain insight into the determinants of women’s labor market participation (LMP) in the Muslim world. We use data on 45 Muslim countries and apply SEM models to determine effects of modernization, democracy, cultural background, and state Islamization on women’s participation in the formal economy (absolute LMP) and on the share of women in the labor force (relative LMP). Women’s absolute LMP is higher in Muslim countries with higher levels of economic development and in the oil-exporting countries. For women’s relative LMP, practical democracy (the degree to which people actively participate in the system) takes in a key position. It has a strong positive effect on women’s relative LMP and mediates the effects of economic development (positive), formal democratic structures (positive) and state Islamization (negative) on women’s relative LMP. Results indicate that in these countries modernization may lead to empowerment of women by increasing their absolute LMP, but that for attaining gender equality the political opportunity structures is most important.
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