Global Gender Attitudes

I count the reasons why I won’t raise my daughter in Pakistan. The attitudes of Pakistanis towards women leave a lot to be desired and women don’t have much opportunity there.

This could also be titled Why I won’t raise my daughter in Pakistan.

There was a discussion among the Urdu bloggers last month about women in Pakistan and especially the staring they have to encounter. Rashid started the discussion. Farhat gave some examples of the difficulties women have to endure and then explained her point of view. Qadeer gave some examples of how women are harassed. Badtameez talked about the reasons of this harassment and staring in his usual inimitable, meandering style. Mera Pakistan discussed the issue and then suggested some solutions. Qadeer also lamented how women are not given their due role in society in Pakistan. Mawra also pontificated on the topic of men staring women in Pakistan. My Dad gave some examples from his youth, discussed whether this problem is limited to Pakistanis and gave some final comments.

I am not very interested in the staring issue myself since I don’t live in Pakistan. However, the larger issue of the role and place of women in society interests me very much. As mentioned above, I do worry about my daughter and how she can have the best opportunities despite the fact that women haven’t achieved equality in any society. With that personal note, I’ll focus on actual survey data rather than anecdotes.

Let’s look at the Pew Global Attitudes Survey, specifically Chapter 5: Views on Gender Issues.

People were asked if it is more important to educate boys or girls or both equally. Here are the responses from a few select countries:

Country Boys Girls Both equally
United States 1% 1% 98%
Turkey 4% 9% 86%
Egypt 22% 4% 73%
India 6% 8% 86%
Pakistan 17% 7% 74%
Bangladesh 8% 3% 89%

Egypt is the worst on this question, but Pakistan is pretty bad too. Compare Pakistan to the rest of the subcontinent and Pakistan looks so much worse than even Bangladesh.

Another question is who makes better political leaders:

Country Men Women Both equally
United States 16% 6% 75%
Sweden 3% 6% 90%
Pakistan 54% 8% 32%
Bangladesh 52% 8% 41%
India 19% 17% 62%

It looks like Indians like Indira Gandhi much better than Pakistanis like Benazir Bhutto and Bangladeshis like Khaleda Zia or Haseena Wajid. It is strange though that PPP (which was led by Benazir Bhutto until her assassination on December 27) has a solid vote of a third of the Pakistani voters, but even some of them think men are better politicians.

The worst is yet to come though: There was one question on the survey asking who should choose a woman’s husband. The options given were woman or family. A lot of people in traditional societies, however, were intelligent enough to volunteer an answer of “both”, except of course Pakistanis.

Country Woman should choose Family should choose Both should have a say
Brazil 97% 1% 2%
Turkey 58% 9% 32%
Egypt 21% 26% 53%
Indonesia 64% 9% 27%
India 26% 24% 49%
Bangladesh 12% 36% 52%
Pakistan 6% 55% 38%

Pakistan was the only country where no one cares about the woman’s choice at all. In fact, they want the family to have exclusive rights to decide a woman’s marriage. Let’s look at it in more detail:

Only in Pakistan does a majority (55%) say that it is better for a woman’s family to choose her husband. Women in that country are slightly more likely than men to express that opinion – 57% of women and 53% of men say a woman’s family should choose whom she marries. This view is especially prevalent among married women. Nearly six-in-ten (59%) married Pakistani women say it is better for a woman’s family to choose, while about a third (32%) say both a woman and her family should have a say. Women who have never been married are more divided; 42% say a woman’s family should choose her husband and 42% say both should have a say. Pakistani women who have never been married are nearly twice as likely as married women in that country to say a woman should choose her own husband (13% of unmarried vs. 7% of married women).

Wow! Married Pakistani women don’t want their daughters and sisters to have any say.

Also, 61% of Pakistanis think that there should be restrictions on men and women being employed in the same workplace.

Let us now look at the Global Gender Gap Report 2007. Here are some choice rankings:

1. Sweden
2. Norway
3. Finland
15. Sri Lanka
18. Canada
20. South Africa
31. United States
32. Kazakhstan
34. Tanzania
41. Uzbekistan
51. France
59. Azerbaijan
81. Indonesia
91. Japan
100. Bangladesh
114. India
118. Iran
121. Turkey
124. Saudi Arabia
126. Pakistan
127. Chad
128. Yemen

Yes, Pakistan is 3rd from the bottom. Let’s look at the detailed results for Pakistan. Pakistan seems to be really bad for women in terms of economic participation and opportunity (a measure which includes labor force participation, wage equality for similar work, income, legislators, senior officials and managers, and professional and technical workers), educational attainment (literacy rate, and enrollment in primary, secondary and tertiary education), and health and survival (sex ratio at birth and healthy life expectancy). On the other hand, Pakistan ranks 43rd for political empowerment of women (women in parliament, women in ministerial positions, and number of years with a female head of state).

No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men is a good movie with a strange, psychopathic villain. I liked it despite the last 15 minutes which felt like an hour or more.

No Country for Old Men is a crime drama in which a hunter stumbles upon two million dollars when a drug deal goes bad. Anton Chigurh, a hit man, is hired to track down the money and kill him. He is an odd, odd guy. Even his haircut is strange! There is also Tommy Lee Jones as the sheriff.

This is a good movie, but it changes pace near the end. Most of the movie moves very fast, but then suddenly it is at a standstill. Amber was asking for a while about the last couple of scenes since they seem a bit disjointed from the rest of the movie.

Anyway, it is one of the best movies of 2007. I rate it 8/10.

Georgia Coast

On memorial day weekend, we drove to the Georgia coast. Brunswick, St Simons Island, and Jekyll Island were fun. Here are some photographs.

Last year on the memorial day weekend, we went to the Golden Isles of Georgia.

It was a good trip except for the fact that Michelle got very sick. Because of that, we had to cancel our plan of spending a day at Cumberland Island. Michelle also didn’t get to enjoy the beach despite her love of the ocean and sand. Plus we had to return a day early.

We spent most of our time wandering around Brunswich, St Simons Island and Jekyll Island. On the last day, we also visited St Marys, where we were supposed to take a ferry to go to Cumberland Island, but didn’t because of Michelle not feeling well.

Unqualified Offerings had sung high praises of Jack’s Famous Wood-Cooked Bar-B-Q in Woodbine, GA. So we drove there for dinner one day. My friends were disappointed to see the shack. Their barbecue was good, but I like Fat matt’s rib shack here in Atlanta better.

Anyway, here are some photographs.

Continue reading “Georgia Coast”

The Third Man

This is a classic thriller set in post-WWII Vienna. Every movie buff should see it.

The Third Man is a mystery/thriller about a writer who comes to postwar Vienna on the invitation of a friend. When he arrives there, he finds out that his friend is dead. However, things take a strange turn and he discovers that he didn’t know much about his friend.

It’s a great, classic movie which everyone should see. I rate it 9/10.

American Muslim Women Literary Anthology

An anthology of non-fiction stories of courtship and dating by American Muslim women is being put together by Baraka. Go visit her blog for submission information.

Baraka is working on a literary anthology of non-fiction, personal stories by American Muslim women on courtship and/or dating.

Announcing a call for non-fiction, personal stories by American Muslim women on courtship and/or dating to be published in an anthology.

We are looking for talented writers to pitch well-written, surprising and compelling anecdotes for a book on loving and looking for love while Muslim.

WHY A BOOK ABOUT COURTSHIP/DATING?

There is a stereotype about Muslim women out there that does not show them as the thinking, feeling, lively people with loving hearts and independent minds that we know them to be. Partially, this is because there just aren’t enough real-life stories about Muslim women being told by Muslim women themselves.

The purpose of this collection is to take control of our narrative by telling our own stories, emphasizing the humanity we all share and celebrating the quirks that make us unique. We hope to do that through stories about courtship/dating because these rituals exist in every societal context; the search for a partner is universal.

We’re excited at the prospect of amplifying the voices of American Muslim women. If you think such perspectives need to be heard too, we invite you to contribute your story!

The deadline to send in a 300-500 word pitch describing the highlights of your story is January 15. Go read the details on Baraka’s blog.

New Hampshire Primary

Today is the New Hampshire primary. Here are some predictions and thoughts about the election. Go Obama!

Today is the first primary. Most polls in New Hampshire show Barack Obama and John McCain ahead among the Democrats and the Republicans respectively. Here are my predictions.

Democrat My prediction Actual vote
Barack Obama 43% 37%
Hillary Clinton 30% 39%
John Edwards 20% 17%
Bill Richardson 6% 5%
Dennis Kucinich 1% 1%
Republicans My prediction Actual vote
John McCain 35% 37%
Mitt Romney 31% 32%
Mike Huckabee 12% 11%
Ron Paul 10% 8%
Rudy Giuliani 9% 9%
Fred Thompson 3% 1%

Winning both Iowa and New Hampshire is going to do wonders for Senator Obama’s campaign. He already got a big boost from Iowa. This is going to make things tough for Hillary Clinton. Looking back at elections since 1972, there are only two instances when the eventual Democratic or Republican nominee lost in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Once in 1972 when Senator Muskie won both and George McGovern won the Democratic nomination. Then in 1992, local Senator Tom Harkin won in Iowa while the eventual Democratic nominee Bill Clinton didn’t take part. In New Hampshire, Bill Clinton came a strong second but Paul Tsongas won the primary. Can Senator Clinton repeat her husband’s feat? It definitely is possible, but I would say it’s going to be difficult. The betting markets seem to agree as Obama is now a 2:1 favorite for the nomination there.

There is also the matter of the African American vote for Obama. Consider South Carolina where half the Democratic voters are African American. In mid-December, Obama was winning barely half of this vote. This should definitely change with Obama’s wins in Iowa and New Hampshire. Let’s recall Jesse Jackson, a very different candidate but still instructive. In 1984 Democratic primaries, he came in third and won 77% of the African American vote. Then in 1988, he did very well, coming in 2nd and winning 11 primaries. He also got 92% of the African American vote.

UPDATE I: John “Thousand Years in Iraq” McCain has been projected the Republican winner by CNN.
UPDATE II: Hillary Clinton wins!

Rendition

This is a movie about sending a man, suspected to be a terrorist, to another country so that he can be tortured. The practice of extraordinary rendition actually dates from the war on drugs. It’s a good movie, worth watching.

Rendition is about an Egyptian American who is sent to a North African country as he is suspected of having some connection with a terrorist. There of course he is tortured. This process of handing out suspects to other countries to be tortured is known as extraordinary rendition.

The impressive parts of the movie are what happens in North Africa. The torture scenes are not easy to watch but affect you a lot. Also, the subplot about the daughter of the local law enforcement guy overseeing the torture is also very interesting.

On the other hand, the acting of Meryl Streep, who is a great actress, and Reese Witherspoon did not impress me much.

Overall, I rate the movie 8/10.

And finally a question: Considering that the United States has (indirectly) tortured innocent people via extraordinary rendition (for example, Maher Arar), do you worry something like this could happen to you or your loved ones? Also, please note that extraordinary rendition did not start with the war on terror. Instead, it dates from the war on drugs as Jonathan Edelstein shows in a great blog post.