Women’s Employment in Muslim Countries: Patterns of Diversity

  • Book Title:
 Womens Employment In Muslim Countries
  • Book Author:
Niels Spierings
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  • List of Figures and Tables vii
  • Acknowledgements x
  • List of Abbreviations xi
  • Part I Background
  • Introduction: Disconnected Knowledge 3
  • The Context: Society, Politics, and Economy 18
  • Theoretical Framework: A Holistic Approach to Women’s Employment 39
  • Part II A New Perspective on Existing Explanations
  • Hypothesizing Women’s Employment in 28 Muslim
  • Countries 61
  • Measuring Women’s Employment in 28 Muslim Countries 73
  • Describing Women’s Employment in 28 Muslim Countries 94
  • Explaining Women’s Employment in 28 Muslim Countries 109
  • Part III New Issues in Women’s Employment
  • Variations in the Effects of Education in 28 Countries 131
  • Patriarchy and Household Configurations in 28 Countries 151
  • Islam as a Multivocal Influence in Indonesia and Nigeria 171
  • Globalization, Violence, and Shifting Influences
  • in Egypt 198
  • v
  • vi Contents
  • Part IV Conclusions and Discussions
  • Conclusion: Understanding Complexity 223
  • Society and Policymaking 243
  • Notes 254
  • References 263
  • Index 286

Variations in the Effects of Education in 28 Countries

Chapter 3 has introduced the idea of embedded effects in order to draw attention to the questions whether and why effects on women’s employment differ between areas, and in Chapter 7 the weaker impact of labour demand and societal norms on women’s white-collar employment suggested that the differences between lower- and higher-educated women are context dependent. Here, I further theorize and test the notion of embedded effects for education’s influence on women’s employment.

The previous chapter has shown that educational attainment is a major influence on women’s employment: women’s odds of employ-ment increase by 53% if a woman has primary education instead of no education.

For secondary education this is 203%, and for tertiary education 1,212%. However, this effect might differ considerably per area and the literature on education provides some thoughts on context specificity (e.g. Abu-Lughod, 1998; Acar, 2006; Jansen, 2006; Tansel, 2002)1 and this is combined with the framework in this book to further theorize context dependency in this chapter.

I start by briefly assessing the differences in education and effects across countries and districts (Section 8.2). After establishing that education indeed has different effects in different areas, I give a short literature review in Section 8.3, and Section 8.4 formulates expectations regarding the different effects. The interaction models are discussed in Section 8.5 and there I also refer to the additional models separating blue- and white-collar employment. In the concluding section (8.6), the results are related to the general framework and core questions of this book.

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Different effect sizes of education

By simply plotting the different employment rates of women with different levels of education for a few countries (Figure 8.1) it already becomes clear that the impact of education differs substantially across these countries. For instance, in Pakistan women with no, primary, or secondary education have employment rates of about 13–14% which rises to 27% among tertiary-educated women.

On the other hand, in Senegal women’s employment rate increases with each level of education, but the increase levels off. At the same time, the pattern for Indonesia and Yemen are quite similar, but in Indonesia the employment rate is about 20 percentage points higher.

To test these differential effects more systematically, the final model as presented in the previous chapter is rerun with random slopes for education at the district or country level. Major advantages of such an approach are that it focusses on net effects (it controls for other determinants of employment) and that it calculates whether the differences are statistically significant or possibly due to coincidence. Table 8.1 tells us that for each level of edu-cation the impact on women’s employment differs significantly between countries and districts.

That the variance coefficients become larger sug-gests fanning out (see Jones, 2007): the differences between areas grow for each additional level of education. Figure 8.2 graphs the controlled…

Conclusions and Discussions

After fourteen hundred years, Khadija’s story – with which this book opened – is still an important one: her being Muhammad’s first wife, the first Muslim in history, and economically very active and independent illustrates two main points of this book.

First, simply linking Islam to economic deprivation of women and gender inequality is short sighted. Second, the story shows that multiple forces, such as her class back-ground, her marital status, her ideology, societal norms, and economic opportunities, shaped Khadija’s position. But how? The current literature on women’s employment in Muslim countries also points to a reasonable array of influential factors, but an overarching understanding of what the dynamics between factors are and which factors might be overlooked is missing. That is why this book set out to understand the influences on women’s economic position, more specifically women’s paid employment in the non-agricultural sector. This was captured in three core questions:

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The results from the previous chapters can be summarized in three central answers: (1) There is great empirical diversity in employment rates.

The variety in women’s employment among countries, districts, and women has been shown to be so extensive that presenting one general figure on women’s employment in the Muslim civilization is uninformative at best, and misleading in most cases. (2) Employment is explained by structured multiplicity.

The differences in women’s employment depend on the needs of women and societies, the opportunities women have, as well as their values and those dominant in their envi-ronments. All influences on a woman’s employment can be understood in these terms, but the way they translate to specific factors might dif-fer. (3) Explanations of employment are subject to generalized context dependency. Influences on employment are not the same everywhere but there are clear patterns in how they depend on the economic, cultural, and policy environment.

In the next section, I unfold these general conclusions by summariz-ing the results of the previous chapters and answering the three overall questions in greater detail (Section 12.2). Subsequently, I reflect on the general theoretical framework used in this book (Section 12.3), and dis-cuss the limitations and broader academic implications (Section 12.4).

The results summarized

The results summarized below are based on multilevel analyses on women aged 15 through 49, who are neither disabled, nor in school, and the dependent variable was whether or not a woman was gainfully employed outside agriculture.

The employment rates – Question 1


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