Chapter 11: Female labor force participation in Islamic countries
Women in Muslim countries lag way behind their counterparts in non-Muslim countries in terms of participation in the labor force. Among many explanations as to why this is the case, religion, in particular, is stated to bear the responsibility. However, a vast amount of research shows that religion is not the culprit in preventing women from being active in the job market, but rather cultural attitudes shape labor force participation decisions. Unfamiliarity of researchers with the local culture adds to the inadequate data collection and interpretation of employment statistics. In this chapter, we conclude that there is a significant role for government action. Starting with girls’ education all the way to financial market realignments, governments can contribute to the process of rendering women more market savvy as well as participatory. None of our recommendations, however, proposes a combative approach with the local culture but rather educational methods in convincing the society to favor female labor force participation.
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