Handbook on Islam and Economic Life
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Handbook on Islam and Economic Life

Edited by M. Kabir Hassan and Mervyn K. Lewis

Handbook on Islam and Economic Life is a unique study, one of the first of its kind to consider Islam within a broader economic sphere. Covering a wide breadth of topics and research, it explores how Islam impinges upon and seeks to shape major aspects of economic life including economic organisation, business and management, finance and investment, charity, mutuality and self-help, and government. It concludes by analysing the link between religion and development, the present economic situation in Arab countries and the causes of underdevelopment in Muslim countries.
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Chapter 11: Female labor force participation in Islamic countries

Ismail H. Genc, George Naufal and Bassam Abu Al-Foul


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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