Women in Asia

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The evolution and history of Women in Asia coincide with the evolution and history of Asian continent itself. They also correspond with the cultures that developed within the region. Asian women can be categorically grouped as women from the Asian subregions of Central Asia, East Asia, North Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Western Asia (aka The Middle East).

By country, women of Asia come from sovereign states such those women from Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, China, Cyprus, East Timor (Timor-Leste), Egypt, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Russian, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Yemen.

Other Asian women come from states with limited international recognition such as women from Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Northern Cyprus, Palestine, South Ossetia, and Taiwan.

Other women from Asia come from dependent territories such as women from the British Indian Ocean Territory, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Hong Kong, and Macau.

Notable women in Asia[edit]

Notable women from Asia include Qiu Jin (China), Trieu Thi Trinh (Vietnam), Corazon Aquino (the Philippines), Sirimavo Bandaranaike (Sri Lanka) and Mandukhai Khatun (Mongolia).[1]


Women of Afghanistan in 2006
Main article: Women in Afghanistan

Women's rights in Afghanistan have suffered through tremendous turmoil in the last decade of the 20th century, when under different rulers such as the mujahideen and the Taliban, women have struggled to gain freedoms and reform a society that is primarily male dominant. Women's rights in the country have gradually improved in the 21st century, under the Karzai administration. Even today, violence against women in Afghanistan is high, although the situation is improving slowly as the country progresses with the help of the international community.[2]


Main article: Women in Armenia

Due to the patriarchal nature of traditional Armenian culture and society,[3] women in Armenia are often expected to be virtuous and submissive, to safeguard their virginity until marriage, and assume primarily domestic tasks. Nonetheless, some Armenian women have attained prominence in business and politics. Another issue in the country is sex-selective abortion.[4][5][6][7][8]


An Azeri young woman from Baku, in 1897
Main article: Women in Azerbaijan

Women in Azerbaijan nominally enjoy the same legal rights as men; however, societal discrimination is a problem.[9]

Bride kidnapping occurs in the country.[10] In the Azeri kidnap custom, a young woman is taken to the home of the abductor's parents through either deceit or force. Regardless of whether rape occurs or not, the woman is generally regarded as impure by her relatives, and is therefore forced to marry her abductor.[11]

Universal suffrage was introduced in Azerbaijan in 1918 by the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, thus making Azerbaijan the first Muslim country ever to enfranchise women.[12] As of 2007, several women held senior government positions, including deputy speaker of parliament, several deputy ministers, and deputy chair of the Central Election Commission.[9] There are no legal restrictions on the participation of women in politics. As of 2011, there were 19 women in the 125-seat parliament. The percentage of female members of parliament increased from 11 to 16 percent between 2005 and 2010.[9][13][14]Traditional social norms and lagging economic development in the country’s rural regions continue to restrict women’s roles in society and the economy, and there were reports that women had difficulty exercising their legal rights due to gender discrimination.[9]


Main article: Women in Bahrain

The Women in Bahrain are Asian women who are generally more publicly active than in other Arab countries. Being highly educated, most Bahraini women are well represented in all of the major professions, women’s societies, and women’s organizations. Apart from having the right to vote, around one-quarter of the women of Bahrain are able to hold jobs outside the confines of the household.[15]

Women’s rights have been a cornerstone of the political reforms initiated by King Hamad with for the first time women being given the right to vote and stand as candidates in national elections after the constitution was amended in 2002. The extension of equal political rights has been accompanied by a self-conscious drive to promote women to positions of authority within government.


Bangladeshi women peacekeepers at MONUSCO, Kinshasa
Main article: Women in Bangladesh

Available data on health, nutrition, education, and economic performance indicated that in the 2014 women participation in the workforce was 57%.[16] Bangladesh has a gender development index of .917.[17] Bangladesh as of 2015 has a female speaker of parliament and Prime Minister.[18]

British Indian Ocean Territory[edit]

Women in the British Indian Ocean Territory who are properly known as Chagossian women,[19] Îlois women, or women of Chagos Islands, were the native inhabitants of the British Indian Ocean Territory (Chagos Archipelago). They were among the people who once was described in the 1950s as islanders who, along with Chagossian men, were "born and brought up on the islands".[20] Their status as "native people" of the Chagos Islands was recognized by the United Nations, and they were living on the archipelago since 1776, being descendants of African slaves brought to the islands by the French.[21] Notable women from the Chagos Archipelago were Lisette Talate and Charlesia Alexis.[22][23]


A Cambodian fisherwoman
Main article: Women in Cambodia

Women in Cambodia, sometimes referred to as Khmer women, are supposed to be modest, soft-spoken, "light" walkers, well-mannered,[24] industrious,[25] belong to the household, act as the family's caregivers and caretakers[24] and financial comptrollers,[25] perform as the "preserver of the home", maintain their virginity until marriage, become faithful wives,[24] and act as advisors and servants to their husbands.[25] The "light" walking and refinement of Cambodian women is further described as being "quiet in […] movements that one cannot hear the sound of their silk skirt rustling".[25] As financial controllers, the women of Cambodia can be identified as having real household authority at the familial level.[26] In recent years, women have become more active in the traditionally male-dominated spheres of work and politics in Cambodia.


October 1, 1949 marks the formal establishment of the People's Republic of China.[27] Since 1949, the government of the People's Republic of China has actively promoted the cultural, social, economic and political roles of women in order to improve women's liberation. The new government of the People's Republic made a commitment to achieve equality between women and men.[28] While advancing towards equality among men and women, the efforts met resistance in a traditionally Confucian society of male superiority.

Although equality amongst men and women has been a long-term goal of the People's Republic of China, the dramatic reformations that followed the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) have inconsistently affected women's empowerment and status in China.[28] Studies shows that Chinese women experienced rapid progress in terms of gender equality during the Cultural Revolution.[28] When the People's Republic of China was established, employed women accounted for only 7 percent of the workforce; whereas in 1992 women's participation in the workforce had increased to account for 38 percent.[29] Women's representation in higher educational institutions has also increased since the establishment of the People's Republic of China.[28] Reports of female infanticide following the execution of the One-child policy indicated the persistence of women's low status in China.[28]

Hong Kong[edit]

Main article: Women in Hong Kong

Native women in Hong Kong were used to be situated within the context of Chinese family and society, in which they were treated the same as Mainland women or Taiwanese women.[30] Under the traditional Chinese patriarchy structure, the society was female-dominated, and women had a relatively subordinate familial role.[31] However, there is a cultural change in Hong Kong during the British colonial period with an emergence of Western culture (i.e. "Westernization"). A mix of traditional Chinese culture and Western values creates a unique culture of Hong Kong. Along with the rapid economic and social development of Hong Kong since the end of the Second World War, a significant improvement in the role of men has been witnessed, while female dominance society structure is still taking in place.[32] Hence, women studies in Hong Kong are slightly differ from China's.

Women in Hong Kong are generally more independent, monetarily autonomous, assertive, and career-focused; which makes them seem to be more prominent when comparing with women in some other Southeast Asian countries.[32] With the increase number of women in professional and managerial positions in recent decades, the terms of "female strong person" or "superwomen" are being used to describe women in Hong Kong.[32]


Main article: Women in Macau

Women in Macau, as described by Candice Chio Ngan Ieng, president of the Macau Women's General Association (AGMM), in 2010 are currently defining themselves as capable and irreplaceable powers to Macau's modern-day civilization. This change is happening despite the slowness in the Macanese people's absorption of the ideological concept of gender equality.[33]

Georgia (country)[edit]

Main article: Women in Georgia

Women in Georgia are highly esteemed in Georgian society and are accorded a chivalric form of respect. The statue of Mother of Georgia (Kartlis Deda, or "Mother of Kartli") that stands at a monument in the hills above Tbilisi perhaps best symbolizes such national character: in her left hand she holds a bowl of wine with which she greets her friends and in her right is a sword drawn against her enemies.


Main article: Women in India

The status of women in India has been subject to many great changes over the past few millennia.[34][34] From equal status with men in ancient times[35] through the low points of the medieval period,[36] to the promotion of equal rights by many reformers, the history of women in India has been eventful. In modern India, women have held high offices in India including that of the President, Prime Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha and Leader of the Opposition. As of 2011, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of the parliament) were women. However, women in India continue to face atrocities such as rape, acid throwing, dowry killings while young girls are forced into prostitution; as of late rape has seen a sharp increase following several high-profile cases of young girls brutally raped in public areas.[37][38][39] According to a global poll conducted by Thomson Reuters, India is the "fourth most dangerous country" in the world for women,[40][41] and the worst country for women among the G20 countries.[42]


Main article: Women in Indonesia

The roles of Indonesian women today are being affected by many factors, including increased modernization, globalization, improved education and advances in technology (in particular communications technology). Many women in Indonesia choose to reside in cities instead of staying in townships to perform agricultural work because of personal, professional, and family-related necessities, and economic requirements. These women are moving away from the traditional dictates of Indonesian culture, wherein women act simply and solely as wives and mothers. At present, the women of Indonesia are also venturing actively into the realm of national development, and working as active members of organizations that focus and act on women's issues and concerns.[43][44]


Main article: Women in Iran

Throughout the history of Persia, Persian women (presently known as women in Iran), like Persian men, used make-up, wore jewellery and coloured their body parts. Moreover, their garments were both elaborate and colorful. Rather than being marked by gender, clothing styles were distinguished by class and status.[45] Women in modern Iran (post 1935 "Persia") are of various mixes and appearances, both in fashion[46] and social norm.[47] Traditionally however, the "Persian woman" had a pre-defined appearance set by social norms that were the standard for all women in society.[48]

Women's rights for Iranian women and their legal status has changed during different political and historical eras. This includes Marriage law, divorce law, education rights, clothing and Hijab, health rights (like reproductive rights, family planning in Iran, and abortion law in Iran), right to vote, etc.

The Iranian women's movement is based on the Iranian women's social movement for women's rights. This movement first emerged some time after the Iranian Constitutional Revolution in 1910, the year in which the first Women Journal was published by women. The movement lasted until 1933 in which the last women’s association was dissolved by the Reza Shah Pahlavi’s government. It heightened again after the Iranian Revolution (1979).[49][50] Between 1962 and 1978, the Iranian women's movement gained tremendous victories: women won the right to vote in 1963 as part of Mohammad Reza Shah's White Revolution, and were allowed to stand for public office, and in 1975 the Family Protection Law provided new rights for women, including expanded divorce and custody rights and reduced polygamy.[51] Following the 1979 Revolution, several laws based on gender discrimination were established such as the introduction of mandatory veiling and public dress code of females.[52] Women's rights since the Islamic Revolution has varied. About 9% of the Iranian parliament members are women, while the global average is 13%.[53] Following the Revolution, women were allowed to join the police and military forces.

The women's rights movement in Iran continues to attempt influencing reforms, particularly with the One Million Signatures Campaign to End Discrimination Against Women.[54]


Main article: Women in Iraq

Women in Iraq at the beginning of the 21st century are immersed in social upheaval. Their social status is affected by many factors: wars (most recently the Iraq War), sectarian religious conflict, debates concerning Islamic law and Iraq's Constitution, cultural traditions, and modern secularism. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi women are widowed as a result of a series of wars and internal conflicts. Women's rights organizations struggle against harassment and intimidation while they work to promote improvements to women's status in the law, in education, the workplace, and many other spheres of Iraqi life.


Main article: Women in Israel

The contemporary roles and status of women in Israel are based on social, historical, political, military, legislative, and religious factors. The number of Israeli women occupying positions in politics has increased since 1993. One prominent Israeli female exemplar was Golda Meir who became a Prime Minister for the State of Israel. Present-day Israeli women hold positions such as city mayor, council members, Supreme Court justices, District Court justices, State Attorney, Members of Knesset and Ministers. Although the law prohibits discrimination based on gender, there are complaints of significant wage disparities between men and women. Societal discrimination and domestic violence against women has been identified as a significant problem, particularly in the Israeli Bedouin society.[55]


Woman in kimono, in Kyoto, Japan
Main article: Women in Japan

After World War II, the dominant cultural template for the role Japanese woman has been that of the "office lady (OL)", who becomes a housewife, and a then a kyoiku mama (education mother) after marriage. Women were given the right to vote in 1946. Other postwar reforms opened education institutions to women and required that women receive equal pay for equal work. In 1986 the Equal Employment Opportunity Law took effect. Legally, few barriers to women's equal participation in the life of society remain, although see Japanese succession controversy.


Main article: Women in Jordan

Throughout history, women in Jordan's political, social and economic status has varied based on the legal, traditional, cultural and religious values at the time. The current legal framework which is based on European civil code is coupled with Islamic tradition and Shari'a Law has determined the rights and liberties legally granted to women while traditional ideas about masculinity and femininity seem to determine women's access to education, the workplace and the general public sphere.


Two young women in Kazakhstan
Main article: Women in Kazakhstan

The position of women in Kazakhstan has been and is influenced by a variety of factors, including local traditions and customs, decades of Soviet regime, rapid social and economic changes and instability after independence, and new emerging Western values. Women in the country went through a difficult period in the 1990s, when Kazakhstan's economy, being in a period of transition, experienced a strong decline and destabilization: by 1995 real GDP dropped to 61,4% of its 1990 level, resulting also in a brain drain.[56][57] Nevertheless, the 1990s also had some positives for women, such as the accession to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1998.[58] In the 21st century, the issue of violence against women has come to public attention, resulting in the Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence of 2009.[59] However, as in other parts of Central Asia, bride kidnapping remains a problem.[60] [61]


Main article: Women in Kuwait

Women in Kuwait are considered to be among the most emancipated women in the Gulf region.[62][63] Women in Kuwait can travel, drive, and work without their fathers' or husbands' consent and they even hold senior government positions.[62] Women in Kuwait are able to work freely and can achieve positions of power and influence.[64]

Women in Kuwait gained the right to vote and stand in parliamentary and local elections in May 2005.[65][66] And in October 2009 Kuwait's constitutional court ruled that women were able to gain their own passports, without the consent of their husbands.[67]


Kyrgyz woman
Main article: Women in Kyrgyzstan

Women in Kyrgyzstan traditionally had assigned roles, although only the religious elite sequestered women as was done in other Muslim societies.[68] Because of the demands of the nomadic economy, women worked as virtual equals with men, having responsibility for chores such as milking as well as child-rearing and the preparation and storage of food.[68] In the ordinary family, women enjoyed approximately equal status with their husbands, within their traditional roles.[68] Kyrgyz oral literature includes the story of Janyl-myrza, a young woman who led her tribe to liberation from the enemy when no man in the tribe could do so.[68] In the nineteenth century, the wife of Khan Almyn-bek led a group of Kyrgyz tribes at the time of the Russian conquest of Quqon.[68]


Main article: Women in Laos

Laotian women have long been active participants in their nation's society, involved in politics, driving social transformation and development, becoming active in the world of business and serving as nurses and food producers for the military. Due to modernization and rural uprooting, Lao women have begun to embrace lifestyles that are foreign to traditional Laotian ideals.[69]


Main article: Women in Lebanon

Due to the large number of officially recognized religions in Lebanon, Lebanese family matters are governed by at least 15 [70] personal statute codes. Lebanese women have legal protection that varies depending on their religion.[71] Marriageable age can be as young as 12.5, polygamy is allowed if the male of the family is Muslim, parental authority belongs to the patriarch of the house and legal guardian of all children, and female children receive less inheritance than a male child would.[70] Children born to a Lebanese woman and a man from another country will not have their children granted Lebanese nationality.[72]

Local and regional NGOs have helped to increase awareness of violence against women in Lebanon.[73][74] Government policies regarding this are poor however, and attempts to improve this area have been met with resistance.[75] Lebanon's laws do not recognize the concept of spousal rape,[70] and attempt to add this to law have been attacked by Lebanese clerics.[76]


Main article: Women in Malaysia
Malaysian women sit at a restaurant, 2009.

Women in Malaysia receives support from the Malaysian government concerning their rights to advance, to make decisions, to health, education and social welfare, and to the removal of legal obstacles. The Malaysian government has ensured these factors through the establishment of Ministry of National Unity and Social Development in 1997 (formerly known in 1993 as Women's Affairs Secretariat or HAWA). This was followed by the formation of the Women's Affairs Ministry in 2001 to recognize the roles and contributions of Malaysian women. 47% of Malaysian women are in the workforce.[77]


Main article: Women in Mongolia

Mongolian women traditionally perceived themselves to have a higher social status than women in many other Asian societies, but were still subordinate to men. They had not equal force for combat, where failure meant all. Many were herdswomen and mothers, but during the Middle Ages some served as warriors or as members of the Khuriltai, a Mongolian governmental council. Some women even served in commanding roles during military operations. Their status in the active field, however, may have declined with the rise of Buddhist and after the Manchu victory. Later they are alleged and represented to have accepted VD as the lot of women and apparently rumoured to conduct abuse of the female body not of a primary nature.


Main article: Women in Myanmar

Historically, women in Burma (Myanmar) have had a unique social status in Burmese society. According to the research made by Daw Mya Sein, Burmese women "for centuries – even before recorded history" owned a "high measure of independence" and had retained their "legal and economic rights" despite the influences of Buddhism and Hinduism. Burma once had a matriarchal system that includes the exclusive right to inherit oil wells and the right to inherit the position as village head. Burmese women were also appointed to high offices by Burmese kings, can become chieftainesses and queens.[78]


Nepali woman
Main article: Women in Nepal

As of the early 1990s, women in Nepal were generally subordinate to men in virtually every aspect of life. Nepal was a rigidly patriarchal society.

Women's relative status, however, varied from one ethnic group to another. The status of women in Tibeto-Nepalese communities generally, was relatively better than that of Pahari and Newari women. Women from the low caste groups also enjoyed relatively more autonomy and freedom than Pahari and Newari women.

The senior female member played a commanding role within the family by controlling resources, making crucial planting and harvesting decisions, and determining the expenses and budget allocations. Yet women's lives remained centered on their traditional roles —taking care of most household chores, fetching water and animal fodder, and doing farm work. Their standing in society was mostly contingent on their husbands' and parents' social and economic positions. They had limited access to markets, productive services, education, health care, and local government. Malnutrition and poverty hit women hardest. Female children usually were given less food than male children, especially when the family experienced food shortages. Women usually worked harder and longer than men. By contrast, women from high-class families had maids to take care of most household chores and other menial work and thus worked far less than men or women in lower socioeconomic groups.

The economic contribution of women was substantial, but largely unnoticed because their traditional role was taken for granted. When employed, their wages normally were 25 percent less than those paid to men. In most rural areas, their employment outside the household generally was limited to planting, weeding, and harvesting. In urban areas, they were employed in domestic and traditional jobs, as well as in the government sector, mostly in low-level positions.

North Korea[edit]

Main article: Women in North Korea

The founder of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung, has eliminated their patriarchal social systems through new reformative laws, such as the Law on Sex Equality, the Labor Law, and the Law on Nationalization of Essential Industries. The reforms implemented by Kim Il-Sung provided North Korean women’s rights at work, rights of inheriting and sharing of properties, and rights of free marriage and divorce. North Korea also outlawed polygamy. The state confiscated all privately owned land, eliminating property discrimination. Today, women in North Korea participate in a variety of labor forces, and there is a considerable number of women who are in high positions. Also, there are many facilities for women including Women’s sanatoria, rest homes, and maternity hospitals, although these are only available to the elite. The ratio of women to men in high wage jobs is still considerably lower than that of low wage jobs. In addition, most of women in the high positions in the society are either relatives or wives of top leaders. Irrespective of the reforms attempting to weaken patriarchal social structures, the political atmosphere is an example of the same patriarchal structure that the reforms intended to dissolve. This demonstrates the degree to which neo-confucian ideals still permeate and affect social and political policies. While most other Asian states have attempted to distance their contemporary society from neo-confucian ideals, North Korea has, to a large degree, embraced them.[79] In accordance with such norms, the North Korean system has remained largely divided and unequal.


Main article: Women in Oman

Women in Oman have historically been a group mainly excluded from the forums of everyday life. But with the dispersal of Omanis in the early 1900s and their return in the early 1970s, a more contemporary population of Omanis that were influenced by the British colonial values during their time abroad have slowly challenged many traditions of gender segregation. Women now pursue careers and professional training, slowly moving from their previous household confinement to the public sphere.[80] In Oman, 17 October is celebrated every year as the Omani Women's Day with various pro-female events.[81]


Main article: Women in Pakistan

The status of women in Pakistan varies considerably across classes, regions, and the rural/urban divide due to uneven socioeconomic development and the impact of tribal, feudal, and capitalist social formations on women's lives. The Pakistani women of today enjoy a better status than most Muslim women. However, on an average, the women's situation vis-à-vis men is one of systemic gender subordination,[82] although there have been attempts by the government and enlightened groups to elevate the status of women in Pakistani society.[83] Now due to lots of awareness among people the educational opportunities for the Pakistani women increased in the previous years.[84] According to a Human Development Report released by the United Nations, Pakistan has better gender equality than neighbouring India.[85][86] However, in 2012, the World Economic Forum ranked Chad, Pakistan and Yemen as the worst in their Global Gender Gap Report.[87] Pakistani women face atrocities like rape, acid throwing, honour killings, forced marriages, forced prostitution and the buying and selling of women.[88] The past few years have been witness to a steep increase in such crimes.[88]


One of the main determinants of the role of Palestinian women is the structure of the family which may be a nuclear unit, a transitional unit, or a hamula unit (hamula means "extended family", the most common family structure in Palestinian society). The significant influences to the rights of women in Palestine are the patriarchal tradition and the teachings of the Quran. In general, expecting parents in Palestine prefer having males because the boys carry "the name of the family and secures" the continuity of the family line and strengthens the likelihood of its economic stability. On the other hand, female Palestinians were not expected to secure income for the family, but women were expected to adapt to the customary roles of women in Palestinian society wherein females were traditionally molded as inferior to men.[89]


The role of women in the Philippines is explained based on the context of Filipino culture, standards, and mindsets. The Philippines is described to be a nation of strong women, who directly and indirectly run the family unit, businesses, government agencies and haciendas.

Although they generally define themselves in the milieu of a masculine dominated post-colonial Asian Catholic society, Filipino women live in a culture that is focused on the community, with the family as the main unit of society. It is in this framework of Philippine hierarchical structure, class differences, religious justifications, and living in a globally developing nation that Filipino women struggle for respect. Compared to other parts of Southeast Asia, women in Philippine society have always enjoyed a greater share of legal equality.[90][91][92][93]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

Main article: Women in Saudi Arabia

Women's rights in Saudi Arabia are defined by Islam and tribal customs. The Arabian peninsula is the ancestral home of patriarchal, nomadic tribes, in which purdah (separation of women and men) and namus (honour) are considered central.

All women, regardless of age, are required to have a male guardian. Women cannot vote or be elected to high political positions.[94] However, King Abdullah has declared that women will be able to vote and run in the 2015 local elections, and be appointed to the Consultative Assembly.[95] Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving. The World Economic Forum 2009 Global Gender Gap Report ranked Saudi Arabia 130th out of 134 countries for gender parity. It was the only country to score a zero in the category of political empowerment. The report also noted that Saudi Arabia is one of the few Middle Eastern countries to improve from 2008, with small gains in economic opportunity.[96]

21% of Saudi women are in the workforce and make up 16.5% of the overall workforce.[97][98]

There is evidence that some women in Saudi Arabia do not want change. Even many advocates of reform reject Western critics, for "failing to understand the uniqueness of Saudi society."[99][100][101] Journalist Maha Akeel is a frequent critic of her country's patriarchal customs. Nonetheless, she agrees that Westerners criticize what they do not understand. She has said: "Look, we are not asking for ... women's rights according to Western values or lifestyles ... We want things according to what Islam says. Look at our history, our role models."[102]


Main article: Women in Singapore

Women in Singapore, particularly those who have joined Singapore's workforce, are faced with balancing their traditional and modern-day roles in Singaporean society and economy. According to the book The Three Paradoxes: Working Women in Singapore written by Jean Lee S.K., Kathleen Campbell, and Audrey Chia, there are "three paradoxes" confronting and challenging the career women of Singapore. Firstly, Singapore's society expects women to become creative and prolific corporate workers who are also expected to play the role of traditional women in the household, particularly as wife and mother. Secondly, Singaporean women are confronted by the "conflict between work and family" resulting from their becoming members of the working population. Thirdly, Singapore's female managers are still fewer in number despite of their rising educational level and attainments when compared to male managers.[103]

South Korea[edit]

Main article: Women in South Korea

Women in South Korea have experienced great social change in recent years following the miracle on the Han River, and especially women’s social status improvement over the last 30 years, it was shown that women’s social status has become practically equal to men’s in many social sectors, such as in occupation, legal rights, education, political participation, and other areas. However, despite all this evidence of official equality, it still raises questions about the true nature of the improvement of women’s social status and the gender-equality due to the remaining inequality, such as the scarcity of women in professional fields, the prevalent imbalance of housework, and the increase of violence towards women, such as in sexual and domestic violence, the coherent belief of gender differences, and other factors. Korea in these days still remain as a highly patriarchal society.

Sri Lanka[edit]

Two women in Kandy, Sri Lanka
Main article: Women in Sri Lanka

All ethnic groups in Sri Lanka preserve clear distinctions regarding the roles of the sexes. Sri Lankan women are responsible for cooking, raising children, and taking care of housework. In families relying on agriculture, women are in charge of weeding and help with the harvest, and, among poor families, women also perform full-time work for the more well-to-do. The man's job is to protect women and children and provide them with material support, and in this role men dominate all aspects of business and public life. At the center of the system are children, who mix freely until puberty and receive a great deal of affection from both sexes. As they enter their teens, children begin to adopt the adult roles that will keep them in separate worlds: girls help with household chores and boys work outside the home. Among the middle- and upper-income groups, however, education of children may last into their early twenties, and women may mix with males or even take on jobs that were in the past reserved for men. There has been a tendency to view the educational qualifications of women as a means for obtaining favorable marriage alliances, and many middle-class women withdraw from the workplace after marriage.


Main article: Women in Syria

Syria Comment described that Syrian women have been able to acquire several rights that have not been granted to their counterparts in other Arab nations. Such rights include the custody of children aged 15 years old or younger; and the right to give their nationality to their offspring whose father is not a national of Syria.[104] A common attire of women, particularly in Damascus, are Western clothing that includes long skirts, pants, jeans, high-heeled shoes, in addition to the sporting of the hijab and the monteau (a type of coat), sometimes accented by a “coordinating purse”.[104]


Tsai Ing-wen, elected as president of Taiwan in 2016
Main article: Women in Taiwan

The status of women in Taiwan has been based on and affected by the traditional patriarchal views and social structure within Taiwanese society, which put women in a subordinate position to men, although the legal status of Taiwanese women has improved in recent years, particularly during the past two decades when the family law underwent several amendments. Women in Taiwan have especially achieved prominent roles in politics.[105] In 2016, Tsai Ing-wen was elected as president of Taiwan. Nevertheless, as in other parts of East Asia, sex selective abortion is reported to happen in Taiwan.[106][107] [108]


Main article: Women in Tajikistan

The Soviet era saw the implementation of policies designed to transform the status of women in Tajikistan. During the 1930s, the Soviet authorities launched a campaign for women's equality in Tajikistan, as they did elsewhere in Central Asia. Eventually major changes resulted from such programs, but initially they provoked intense public opposition. For example, women who appeared in public without the traditional all-enveloping veil were ostracized by society or even killed by relatives for supposedly shaming their families by what was considered unchaste behavior.


Main article: Women in Thailand

Women in Thailand were among the first women in Asia who were granted the right to vote in 1932. However, they are still underrepresented in Thai politics.[109][110] The roles of women in Thailand's national development has not yet been fully established. Factors that affect women's participation in the socio-economic field include "inadequate gender awareness in the policy and planning process" and social stereotyping.[111]


Main article: Women in Turkmenistan

The role of women in Turkmenistan has never conformed to Western stereotypes about Muslim women.[112] Although a division of labor exists and women usually are not visible actors in political affairs outside the home, Turkmen women have never worn a veil similar to that of the women of some of its neighboring countries.[112] As Turkmenistan is a tribal nation, customs regarding women can vary within the country: for example, women in the eastern part of the country are permitted to drink some alcohol whereas women who live in the central portion of the country, particularly those of the Tekke tribe, are not permitted to imbibe alcohol. Most women possess a host of highly specialized skills and crafts, especially those connected with the household and its maintenance.[112] During the Soviet period, women assumed responsibility for the observance of some Muslim rites to protect their husbands' careers.[112] Many women entered the work force out of economic necessity, a factor that disrupted some traditional family practices and increased the incidence of divorce.[112] At the same time, educated urban women entered professional services and careers.[112]

United Arab Emirates[edit]

The role of women in the United Arab Emirates has advanced greatly in recent years, making the UAE a leader in women's rights in the Arab world. Though there were few opportunities for women outside the home before 1960, the discovery of oil led to advancement in women's position. The UAE constitution guarantees equality between men and women in areas including legal status, claiming of titles, and access to education. The General Women's Union (GWU), established by HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak wife of then President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, remains a strong component of the State's and participating organizations' various initiatives. In the 2007/2008 United Nations Development Programme report, the UAE ranked 29th among 177 countries in the Gender Empowerment Measures, the best rating received in the Arab World.[113] UNDP’s Millennium Development Goal No. 3, to “Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women” has reached its targeted levels of female participation in primary education and continues to increase.[114]


Main article: Women in Uzbekistan
Women in Uzbekistan

The social and legal situation of women in Uzbekistan has been influenced by local traditions, religion, the Soviet rule, and changing social norms since independence.[115] Although Uzbek law provides some safeguards for the security of women in the country, women continue to face numerous problems, especially violence. There are reports that forced sterilization of women is practiced in Uzbekistan.[116][117][118] A BBC World Service "Assignment" report on 12 April 2012 uncovered evidence that women are being sterilised, often without their knowledge, in an effort by the government to control the population.[119]


Main article: Women in Vietnam

Women in Vietnam played a significant role in defending Vietnam during the Vietnam War from 1945 to 1975. They took roles such as village patrol guards, intelligence agents, propagandists, and military recruiters. By becoming "active participants" in the struggle to liberate their country from foreign occupation, Vietnamese women were able to free themselves from "centuries of Confucian influence that had made them second-class citizens".[120] Historically, this character and spirit of Vietnamese women were first exemplified by the conduct of the Trung sisters, the “first historical figures” in the history of Vietnam who revolted against Chinese control. This trait is also epitomized in the old Vietnamese adage: "When war comes, even women have to fight",[120] and its variation: "When the enemy is at the gate, the woman goes out fighting".[121]


A Yemeni female doctor examines an infant
Main article: Women in Yemen

Women in Yemen have historically had much less power in society than men. Although the government of Yemen has made efforts that will improve the rights of women in Yemen (including the formation of a Women's Development Strategy and a Women Health Development Strategy),[122] many cultural and religious norms, along with poor enforcement of this legislation from the Yemeni government, have prevented Yemeni women from having equal rights to men.

Today, Yemeni women do not hold many economic, social or cultural rights. Even more striking is the reality that while suffrage was gained in 1967 and constitutional and legal protection was extended to women during the first years of Yemen unity between 1990–1994, they continue to struggle “in exercising their full political and civil rights”.[123] History shows that women have played major roles in Yemeni society. Some women of pre-Islamic and early Islamic Yemen held elite status in society. The Queen of Sheba, for example, “is a source of pride for the Yemeni nation”.[123] In addition, Queen Arwa has been noted for her attention to infrastructure, which added to a documented time of prosperity under her rule.[123] Modern day women of Yemen, however, are subject to a society that reflects largely agrarian, tribal, and patriarchal traditions. This, combined with illiteracy and economic issues has led women to continuously be deprived of their rights as citizens of Yemen.

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]