Gender disparities have long existed in distinct societies all over the world. However, in the recent past many countries promoted programs and provided resources to reduce if not dissolve the gender inequality that women face. Although there has been progress in women’s standing in the West, the Middle East continues to struggle.

It’s a man’s world- this ideology is flawed in more ways than one, and women are the ones that are continually oppressed because of it. The culture in most countries in the Middle East is excessively male dominated, where men have the ultimate authority to make decisions for everyone, even grown women. People reinforce gender norms and stereotypes, where women are subject to domestication and a life of restrictions. Women are expected to be subservient to the endless social, economic and political injustices they face.

Imagine having to relinquish control over every aspect of your life. To live a life where you’re not allowed to marry a man of your choosing; in some cases, being a victim of domestic abuse; withering away in grief due to a normalised culture of polygamy; not being allowed to work, fueling employment discrimination because men cannot bear to have another bread winner in the house, fearing it may jeaporidse their supremacy; being denied the right to education; obstructed from conferring with content from the West, because it may give women ideas to speak up and demand for what should be a birth right; living in the shadow of a government that aims to disempower women by imposing biased and sexist laws, only for men to benefit from repressive political ideologies.

Let that sink in.

Credits: BBC.

It would be unfair not to highlight the reforms in many countries, and some are exceptions to the degree of gender inequality their citizens face. For example, Saudi Arabia finally allowed women to drive in June 2018. In 2017, the Tunisian government passed a law that provides protection for victims of domestic abuse. Furthermore, women are finding innovative ways to join the workforce and become entrepreneurs to earn a profit. While there is change and hope for more, not all amendments were made because women were being vocal about the cruelty they face, But due to urbanisation and modernisation men strive to engage their society in.

Credit: The New Yorker

Men don’t see the harm it causes, because they’re not interested in changing a system that suits them so well. In the midst of ignorance, guilt fades, if there was any to begin with. But, is it right? Is it fair? Why does a man get to decide for a woman? Why does anyone else hold the reins to a woman’s freedom?