SWMENA survey respondents were also asked a series of questions aimed at understanding dynamics between women and men, husbands and wives, and parents and sons or daughters in areas such as equal access to education, employment, and other issues of gender equality.
Respondents were asked how they feel about a daughter working outside of the home. Figures 15 and 16 show that both a majority of women and men say they would allow their daughter to work outside the home if she chose to do so, but women are more likely to say yes than men (83% and 68%, respectively). It is noteworthy, however, that twice as many men as women say they would not allow their daughter to work outside the home (31% and 16%, respectively).
Of women who say they would not allow a daughter to work outside the home, 60% say it is because women should tend to the home and children, 7% say it is because there are no appropriate jobs for women, 7% say it is too dangerous, 7% say it is because she should focus on getting married, and 1% cite habits and customs. Of men who say they would not allow a daughter to work outside the home, 56% say it is because women should tend to the home and children, 8% say it is because there is no appropriate jobs for women, 8% say it is too dangerous, 7% say it is because she should focus on getting married, and 2% cite habits and customs.
When asked whether they would allow a son or daughter to complete secondary school or university education if they so chose, majorities of both men and women say yes they would allow both a son and daughter to do so. However, higher percentages of men and women support a son completing both levels of education in comparison with those who would support a daughter.
Ninety percent of men and women say they would allow a daughter to complete secondary school and 99% of men and 98% of women say they would allow a son to complete secondary school. Regarding university, sweeping majorities of men (98%) and women (97%) also say they would allow a son to complete university. However, when asked the same question about daughters, the proportions of men and women who would allow their daughters to complete university are significantly lower: 77% of men and 84% of women. Despite the fact that fewer men and women respondents would allow a daughter to complete either secondary school or university, it is notable that over three-quarters of Yemeni men and women say they would allow a daughter to complete both of these levels of education if she so chose (Figure 17).
Men and women who say they would not allow their daughter to pursue her education cite similar reasons and in the same order with slightly different percentages. Twenty-six percent of women and 26% of men say it is because school/university is far from home, 20% of women and 19% of men say because she has household responsibilities, 15% of women and 13% of men say because it is not convenient for her to go to school/university, 14% of women and 8% of men say because they cannot afford to pay for her education, 10% of women and 4% of men say it is because she has to focus on getting married, 4% of women and 8% of men say it is because of shame/traditions/customs, and 2% of women and 8% of men say it is enough for women to be able to read and write.
When respondents were asked about women’s freedom in choosing marriage partners, there is high support for both men and women to be able to freely choose their marriage partner, but there is also support for daughters and sons to be guided by their parents. Ninety-eight percent of men and 93% of women believe sons should have the right to freely choose their marriage partner. Fewer respondents but still majorities believe the same freedom should be applied to daughters: 76% of women and 74% of men believe daughters should be able to freely choose.
Men and women respondents have similar outlooks on the role parents should play in guiding both sons and daughter to their marriage partner. The biggest disparity in opinions lies in the responses to whether parents should choose the marriage partner. When it comes to daughters, a sizable 60% of women and 57% of men believe that since parents have their children’s best interest at heart, they should choose their daughter’s marriage partner. In contrast, only 47% of women and 33% of men believe parents should choose the son’s partner. These findings bring to light a difference in perceptions of sons having more decision-making freedom in marriage choices than daughters do (Figure 18).
Next, a few statements were asked of only married men or only married women to understand dynamics between husbands and wives.
Married men were asked about how comfortable they would be if their wife worked full-time for pay and if their wife earned more than them. The data shows husbands are still mostly uncomfortable relinquishing their role as the primary breadwinner in the family. A majority of married men say they would be very/somewhat uncomfortable (67%) with their wives working full-time for pay and a majority of married men (57%) say they would be very/somewhat uncomfortable if their wife earned more than them. Less than a third of married men (31%) say they would be very/somewhat comfortable if their wife worked full time for pay or if she earned more than him (40%) (Figure 19).
Married women were asked about how comfortable they would be sharing household responsibilities with their husbands and if their husbands cared for the children on a regular basis while they attend meetings, classes or other regular engagements. Three-quarters (75%) of Yemeni women say they would be very/somewhat comfortable sharing household responsibilities with their husbands and 62% of women also say they would be very/somewhat comfortable having their husbands care for the children while they attended meetings or other engagements. This indicates that women would prefer a more equitable household balance, with their husbands pitching in to share household responsibilities and watch the children (Figure 20).
Respondents were next read a series of statements about different dynamics between women and men and husbands and wives and asked to what extent they agree or disagree. The aim of these questions is to understand how equality-based or “progressive” the respondents’ are on certain issues surrounding gender equality.
A majority of both women and men strongly/somewhat agree that “Women and girls should have equal access to education as men and boys” (91% and 84%, respectively) (Figure 21). Yet, when asked whether “Women should have equal work opportunities as men,” 78% of women strongly/somewhat agree and only 44% of men agree (Figure 22). The largest disparity in opinions between genders is in the intensity of support: while 80% of women strongly agree on equal access to education, only 58% of men strongly agree. Similarly, while 57% of women strongly agree to equal work opportunities, only 19% of men strongly agree.
When jobs are scarce, majorities of Yemeni women (83%) and men (89%) both agree that men should have more of a right to a job than women. This demonstrates that women and men agree to equal work opportunities in theory, but if jobs are scarce men should be prioritized (Figure 23).
Majorities of men and women also believe a good wife should obey her husband even if she disagrees: 83% of women and 87% of men strongly/somewhat agree. Figures 23 and 24 show that men and women have similar outlooks on women’s and wives’ submissive roles in relation to men and husbands. These findings seem to indicate that women may agree to the concept of equal work opportunities, but not if it means being above a man in status or social/professional prestige and not if it means shifting the power balance in the household between husbands and wives.
Regarding polygamy, or the ability of men to have more than one wife, there is a difference of opinion on this issue between men and women. A strong 88% of men strongly/somewhat agree it is acceptable for men to have more than one wife, while only 46% of women agree. In fact, over half of women (52%) strongly/somewhat disagree that it is acceptable for men to have more than one wife versus 12% of men who disagree (Figure 25). Among women in polygamous marriages, nearly two-thirds (65%) agree that it is acceptable for a man to have more than one wife. For women in monogamous marriages, the proportion agreeing with this statement is lower but stands at a sizable 40%.
When aggregating opinions on these five statements related to gender equality and classifying the more equality-based or “progressive” responses, we see women gave progressive responses to more of these statements than men. As seen in Figure 26, 36% of women gave progressive opinions to three of the five statements compared to only 12% of men. Thirty-eight percent of both men and women gave progressive responses to two statements, 33% of men gave progressive responses to only one statement and 13% did not give any progressive responses to any questions on gender equality. Overall, 50% of women gave progressive responses to three or more statements compared to only 16% of men (Figure 26).
Finally, in order to examine the level of control women feel they have over their destiny, we read respondents the statement, "Some people believe that individuals can decide their own destiny, while others think that it is impossible to escape a predetermined fate. Please tell me which comes closest to your view on this scale." Respondents then ranked their viewpoint on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 means “everything is determined by fate” and 10 means “people shape their fate themselves.” We found that the average score when aggregating responses were relatively similar for women and men at 5.6 and 5.8 respectively, indicating a similar outlook between genders on the role of fate in their lives (Figures 27 & 28).