SWMENA survey respondents were also asked a series of questions aimed at understanding dynamics between women and men, husbands and wives, and parents and daughters in areas such as economic equality, and women’s autonomy in decision-making.
- Respondents were asked how they feel about a daughter working outside of the home. Figures 14 and 15 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 (97% and 82%, respectively). It is noteworthy, however, that eight times as many men as women say they would not allow their daughter to work outside the home (16% and 2%, respectively). Also, more men in urban areas say they would allow their daughter to work outside the home (86%) than men in rural areas (78%).
- Of men who say they would not allow a daughter to work outside the home, 72% say they would not allow their daughter to work outside the home say it is because women should tend to the home and children, 13% say it is because she should focus on getting married, 11% say because it could be dangerous for them, and 9% say there are no appropriate jobs for women.
- When respondents were asked about women’s freedom in choosing marriage partners and parents involvement in that process, there is a sense from both men and women that women and men should freely choose their marriage partners with guidance from their parents, but not chosen by their parents (Figure 16). This shows the respect for women’s and men’s ability to make free decisions in regards to marriage, however, the strong family structure is reflected in the high majorities of both men and women who say that parents of both sons and daughters should have a role in at least guiding their children. Still, less men than women (89%, 96%) agree that women must have the right to freely choose their marriage partner and nearly 10% more men agree that men should have this right (98%) than men who agree women should have this right (89%). Also, we see double the percentage of men agreeing parents should choose their daughters’ marriage partner than men who believe parents should choose a son’s marriage partner (22% and 9%, respectively). These findings highlight a difference in opinions between men and women regarding perceptions of sons having more freedom of decision making in marriage choices than daughters do.
- Married men were asked about their comfort level with their wife working full-time with pay and with their wife earning 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 (58%) with their wives working full-time for pay and a majority of married men (60%) say they would be very/somewhat uncomfortable if their wife earns more than them. Still, four in ten married men say they would be very/somewhat comfortable if their wife worked full time for pay (42%) or if she earned more than him (38%) (Figure 17).
Respondents were then asked 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.
- On issues related to equal work opportunities and equal access to education as men and boys, a majority of both men and women strongly/somewhat agree that “Women and girls should have equal access to education as men and boys” (98% and 95%, respectively) (Figure 18) and “Women should have equal work opportunities as men” (97% and 63%, respectively) (Figure 19). In terms of equal work opportunities, however, there is more than a thirty percentage point difference between men and women on agreement with women having equal work opportunities as men.
- Also, when asked if men should have more of a right to jobs than women when jobs are scarce (Figure 20) and if a good wife should obey her husband even if she disagrees (Figures 21), a majority of both men and women agree. Nine in ten women (91%) believe men have more right to jobs when jobs are scarce, as do 92% of men. Majorities of men and women believe a good wife should obey her husband even if she disagrees: 71% of women and 85% of men strongly/somewhat agree. Figure 20 and 21 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.
- Between women of different education levels, we do not see statistically significant differences in opinions on these statements except for the issue of wives obeying husbands: as education levels increase, the percentage of women who disagree with this statement also increases (Figure 22).
- 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 91% of men strongly/somewhat agree it is acceptable for men to have more than one wife, while less than half that percentage of women agree (44%). Indeed, over half of women (53%) strongly/somewhat disagree that it is acceptable for men to have more than one wife versus 9% of men who disagree. (Figure 23).
- 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 24, 17% of women gave progressive opinions to 4 of the 5 statements compared to only 3% of men. Forty-six percent of women gave progressive opinions to 3 of these statements compared to 20% of men, 33% of women gave progressive opinions to 2 of these statements compared to 44% of men, and 2% of women gave progressive opinions to only 1 of these statements compared to 30% of men. In sum, 65% of women gave progressive responses to 3 out of 5 statements compared with only 23% of men. Only 2% of women and less than 1% of men gave progressive opinions to all 5 of these statements.
- 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 more women fall on the fate side of the scale (62%) rather than the self-determination side (29%). It is of note that 10% of women and 6% of men say they don’t know. Still, the average rank of both men and women are similar, indicating a similar outlook between genders (Figures 25 & 26).