Zakaria: Comparing the status of women in Iran and Saudi Arabia

(Getty Images)
October 27th, 2011
10:39 AM ET

Zakaria: Comparing the status of women in Iran and Saudi Arabia

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

I recently visited Iran. Upon my return, I wrote a reflections post in which I made some comments about women in Iran in comparison to women in Saudi Arabia. I pointed out that if you watch the women of the Islamic Republic of Iran - a regime that is, by most accounts, retrograde, particularly with regard to women’s rights - you are struck by how defiantly women try to lead normal and productive lives. They wear the headscarves and adhere to the rules about covering their bodies, but do so in a very stylish way. They continue to go to college in large numbers, to graduate school and to work.

In Saudi Arabia, another country that is run along strict Islamic lines, you see an elite core of women who are highly educated and very articulate, but in general, the most striking thing about Saudi Arabia for an outsider traveling around is the absence of co-ed facilities. Some of this is changing, but my impression of Saudi Arabia is still that women are not well integrated into the workforce or mainstream life. 

Behind the closed doors of homes, of course, it’s an entirely different matter.  You see intelligent and articulate women, but it is almost as if that is left entirely to the private realm, not the public.

Those are my impressions of the two countries.  I decided to make a quick tabulation to see whether the facts bear these impressions their out. What follows is a simple comparison between Iran and Saudi Arabia with regards to women’s rights.

– Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi. They are in Iran.

– Saudi women have been barred from voting, while in Iran women’s suffrage began in 1963. In September of this year King Abdullah granted Saudi women the right to vote and run in the next round of municipal elections, which isn’t expected until 2015.

– In 2010, Iranian women held 3% of ministerial positions and 5% of parliament seats. In Saudi, none did.

– The World Economic Forum measures disparities between men and women across a range of criteria - economic participation, health, political empowerment and access to education. Iran ranked 123rd out of 131 countries. Saudi Arabia was six places lower, at 129th. For political rights, Iran ranked 129th out of 131 countries. Saudi Arabia came in last.

– Women outnumber men in college in both Iran and Saudi Arabia (as they do in the U.S., too), but education doesn’t necessarily translate into employment. In Iran, women have outnumbered men in entering college by as much as two to one in the last several years. However, after graduation, women are one-third less likely to work as men. Thirty two percent of Iranian women participate in the workforce, about half the average of advanced economies. In Saudi Arabia the rate is even lower, at 21%.

I'd love to read your thoughts on this matter below. It's clear that both countries have a very long way to go.

Post by:
Topics: Iran • Saudi Arabia • Women

soundoff (689 Responses)
  1. Zenobia Langer

    Todos nuestros repuestos son originales de fábrica, lo que supone una garantía más de la calidad y fiabilidad de nuestras reparaciones. También ofrecemos la posibilidad de poder adquirir repuestos originales, productos de limpieza y mantenimiento, accesorios y complementos de menaje, a través de y por teléfono. Reparación de Neveras, Frigoríficos, Congeladores, Equipos de Frío, Técnicos de Refrigeración.

    December 20, 2020 at 1:55 pm |
  2. zortilonrel

    I have been exploring for a little bit for any high-quality articles or weblog posts on this sort of house . Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this website. Reading this info So i am glad to convey that I've an incredibly good uncanny feeling I discovered just what I needed. I so much unquestionably will make certain to do not overlook this web site and give it a glance regularly.

    December 25, 2020 at 12:39 am |
  3. zortilo nrel

    Hey there! Do you use Twitter? I'd like to follow you if that would be ok. I'm absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

    December 25, 2020 at 1:10 am |
  4. zortilo nrel

    I've been browsing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be much more useful than ever before.

    December 25, 2020 at 2:26 am |
  5. zortilo nrel

    Very well written information. It will be supportive to anybody who utilizes it, as well as myself. Keep doing what you are doing – for sure i will check out more posts.

    December 25, 2020 at 4:13 am |
  6. Vladimirfnv

    удалите,пожалуйста! .

    December 26, 2020 at 11:45 am |
  7. earn passive income in 2021

    MONSTERMODE 700K is a cutting-edge funnel-based app that can generate 100 commissions of up to 900+ dollars DAILY. This is made thanks to traffic conveyed on autopilot over various “viral tiers”. More details:

    December 26, 2020 at 1:04 pm |
  8. Vladimircwz

    удалите,пожалуйста! .

    December 27, 2020 at 7:22 pm |
  9. zortilonrel

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.

    December 28, 2020 at 9:46 pm |
  10. Vladimirtwc

    удалите,пожалуйста! .

    December 29, 2020 at 6:21 pm |
  11. zortilonrel

    I'm still learning from you, while I'm trying to reach my goals. I absolutely liked reading all that is written on your blog.Keep the stories coming. I liked it!

    December 30, 2020 at 2:24 am |
  12. plumbing services near me internet

    The crux of your writing while appearing agreeable in the beginning, did not really settle very well with me after some time. Somewhere throughout the sentences you actually managed to make me a believer but just for a short while. I however have got a problem with your jumps in assumptions and one would do well to help fill in all those gaps. If you can accomplish that, I would definitely end up being impressed.

    December 30, 2020 at 11:35 pm |
  13. Jeremy Hovorka

    world is changing

    December 31, 2020 at 7:42 am |
  14. zortilo nrel

    Helpful information. Lucky me I found your website unintentionally, and I am surprised why this accident did not came about in advance! I bookmarked it.

    January 6, 2021 at 1:44 am |
  15. zortilo nrel

    very good put up, i definitely love this website, carry on it

    January 6, 2021 at 1:48 am |
  16. zortilonrel

    I've been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be much more useful than ever before.

    January 6, 2021 at 2:20 am |
  17. zortilonrel

    I think this is among the most vital info for me. And i'm glad reading your article. But wanna remark on some general things, The website style is wonderful, the articles is really excellent : D. Good job, cheers

    January 6, 2021 at 3:28 am |
  18. zortilo nrel

    I think this site holds some rattling superb info for everyone :D. "The test of every religious, political, or educational system is the man that it forms." by Henri Frdric Amiel.

    January 6, 2021 at 5:38 am |
  19. zortilo nrel

    Nice read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing some research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch! "But O the truth, the truth. The many eyes That look on it The diverse things they see." by George Meredith.

    January 6, 2021 at 5:54 am |
  20. zortilo nrel

    Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

    January 6, 2021 at 6:36 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.