Women in Parliament: Islamists in Tunisia Field More Women as Candidates than the Percentage of Women in the US Congress

28 Feb 2012

By Juan Cole

Whenever a Western power wants to invade and or bomb a Muslim nation one invariably hears about how the "women are oppressed in ________ (insert Muslim nation of choice)" and "we must liberate them from the clutches of those evil, backward, misogynistic Muslim men." That is one of the reasons we've termed the bombing, invasion and occupation of Muslim lands, the Greater Islamophobia.

Interestingly, when one analyzes say…the number of women in positions of power in countries across the world, we see the percentages of women in parliament to be higher in many majority Muslim nations than in parts of the West. [These statistics also buttress the fact that more Muslim nations have had female leaders, (Presidents, Prime Ministers) than the USA!]

Below we have a list of countries whose percentages of women in parliament is higher than the USA, which ranks a dismal 71st.

*Afghanistan (I have added an asterisk here because this nation is under foreign occupation and the results for many are not considered legitimate. However it is still interesting that Afghanis, some of the most vilified people in the world today when it comes to views of women vote for them at a higher percentage than Americans.)


RankCountryLower or single HouseUpper House or Senate
ElectionsSeats*Women% WElectionsSeats*Women% W
30Afghanistan9 20102496927.7%1 20111022827.5%

Tunisia is not a surprise to many who know the country, but lets put these numbers into perspective. The Islamist party Ennahda won elections, they are known as "moderates," but within the media, especially the Right we see an effort to translate Ennahda's victory into a harbinger for the repression of women's rights and other usual hoopla associated with Right-wing anti-Islam rhetoric. As the Angry Arab, As'ad Abu Khalil remarks, "I just figured that Tunisian Islamists fielded more women as candidates than the percentage of women in the US Congress."

32Tunisia10 20112175726.3%


36Iraq3 20103258225.2%————


37Sudan4 20103468725.1%5 201028517.9%


45Kyrgyzstan10 20101202823.3%————


46Senegal6 20071503422.7%8 20071004040.0%


47Pakistan2 20083427622.2%3 20091001717.0%


48Mauritania11 2006952122.1%11 200956814.3%


49Uzbekistan12 20091503322.0%1 20101001515.0%


60Tajikistan2 2010631219.0%3 201034514.7%


63Bangladesh12 20083456418.6%————


65Indonesia4 200956010118.0%————


66Kazakhstan8 20071071917.8%8 201147??

United Arab Emirates

67United Arab Emirates9 201140717.5%————

All of the above nations did better than the USA.


Here are two Western nations who you'd think would have done better in the numbers and who wax eloquent about "women's rights," even using it as a pretext to bomb and invade nations:

61France6 200757710918.9%9 20113487722.1%
71United States of America11 20104347316.8%11 20101001717.0%

Of course some of the above Muslim nations still have low percentages, however my purpose here is not to draw conclusions but to add to the empirical evidence when it comes to the discussion of women, women's role in Muslim societies and women's rights.

As the battle over birth control, invasive procedures before abortion, etc. rages on in the USA, the above stats provide a healthy if sobering perspective to the belligerent discussion in the looniverse about Muslim women.


©  EsinIslam.Com

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