One of the most important problems in planning for social developments
is the inclusion of women participation in the processes. The united Nation
has put forward various plans to close the wide gap between developing
and developed countries in order to reduce poverty throughout the world.
Among the Arab countries the issue has been addressed more vigorously
recently. For these countries employing human resources, specially women
is essential and it seems, with regard to the criteria considered as the
countrys development indicators, some Arab countries have fallen behind
and the backwardness is more evident where women involvements are concerned.
It is of course true that in most Arab countries situations for women
have been improving steadily and they have progressed in areas like education,
health and social works significantly, however, despite all of these progresses,
like many other countries in the world, women have not been able to become
involved in management and executive jobs.
In the so called underdeveloped countries the issue is very serious and
they must take the initiatives and learn from other countries experiences
and consider and address the parameters facilitating or inhibiting and
preventing women involvement in their social development processes.
Predominance role of patriarchy, the influential presence of social expectations
and limiting cultural freedom along with superstitious beliefs, historical
habits and indecent customs and traditions, which contradict the spirit
of religion, oppose women participation and presence in many aspect of
social and political decision making and processing in the society.
Another important, significant and influential factor affecting women
progress within some Arab countries is the lack of self confidence in
their competencies and capabilities. These and the presence of discriminating
opportunities in acquiring experiences in socio-political arena, flourishing
talents and innovating new technology, has deprived Arab women using their
talents and executive powers in their countries.
Human himself is an important source of wealth and can only be taken as capital
when he/she is employed and utilized efficiently and appropriately. It has been
said that women are half of the society but their effectiveness can be beyond
that. An Arab poet present woman as cultures focal point in a society and if
she is allowed to develop and progress the society will be exalted and majestic.
Closer study indicates that the main difference between advanced and underdeveloped
countries, from progressing and developing point of views are utilization of
human wealth. Policy planners in a country should include women in their development
strategies in such a way that the 50% of the wealth of the country performs
efficiently as well (Doumato and Posusney, 2003).
In the meanwhile external pressure for procurement of womens rights and feminism,
along with explosive domestic demands and requirements, has put greater emphasis
on the utilization of human experiences for improving human society as a whole.
Feminists believe that men exploit women to do domestic house chores and they
prefer to keep them at home. Men dissuade women entering work market and even
if they allow them to work, they still keep them under their strict control.
Differentiation of men and women in a society is rather a social process than
being natural or biological and universal, in fact women work more than men
do. Women in rural areas participate in the field work as well as doing their
domestic jobs (Pamela and Wallas, 2001). Performing work
at home, women pave the way for men to work and make money. According to UNESCOs
study, women work between seventy to eighty hours a week while their leisure
time is only two third of their spouses (Khoi, 1996). Job
varieties are limited for women. Current statistics show that women are mainly
employed in Government Department of Education and Health. In 1980 in a conference
organized for women in Copenhagen, the UN presented statistical data regarding
lobs performed by women. The report stated that between two third and three
quarter of jobs were given to women. Women prepare 45% of food universally,
this is while 10% of world income belongs to women and only 1% of wealth and
properties are owned by them. The interesting point here is that part of the
1% wealth and properties is owned by men who put their wealth under their spouses
name to evade paying tax (French, 1993). One of the indicators
pertaining progress and development in a society is the active presence of women
in major components of the fabric of the society like political, cultural and
economical arenas which are also being emphasized within the international laws.
In view of the fact that women comprise half the world population, materialization
of progress and development would only be realizable when women, like men, participate
in development processes and enjoy and benefit their contributions (Turner,
Defined participation in social science dictionary as bellow: To have share
or interest in a subject through which one obtains benefit or profit as an individual
or take part in group activities and acquires wealth or status. (Ghadimi,
2001). Defines participation as: Willfully and consciously participating
in all the activities and affairs, for the purpose of managing and making decision
with a society; appraising and evaluating actions and activities carried out
by the members; directly or indirectly getting involved in the formation of
socio- political life of a society through accepting responsibility. The practical
application of the definition above and other ones is to prepare and pave the
ground road concerning all, men and women, so that they become involved in the
management of their affairs in every aspect of their lives. And women who not
only are half of the human resources, but also bring up, educate and foster
both genders of the society, therefore have major role in the society.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Survey methodology which is one of the attributive methods of study has been
employed here. Statistical samples are taken from employed women who share a
common factor of being employed by the government of Bahrain in 2006. The purpose
of study is to evaluate view point of the interest group with respect to the
sources and factors promoting and or preventing them participating in social
activities concerning their progress and development in life. The total number
of women employed by the government (N) was 17544 (Seif Afjei,
2002) and therefore random sampling technique was chosen as (N) was sufficiently
large and would not introduce an element of bias. In view of the fact that statistical
population was large and also for the purpose of investigation, the best procedure
available for measurement was to apply questionnaire form. For the purpose of
avoiding bias a pilot study was with open questionnaire was arranged. Five questions
pertaining fundamental elements compelling women participating in social activities
were compiled and sent to forty expert women who were employed in various executive
and administrative jobs within the government organizations. All the returned
questionnaires were analyzed evaluated using the technique concerning changing
qualitative respond to quantitative data (Bazargan and Hejazi,
1999). All the questionnaire subjects or elements (social, cultural, family,
individual/or personal and educational) were divided, categorized and heavily
weighed. All the elements were defined and coded so that all the categories
would appear once only and would not show up in any other categories. After
determining the contents and categorizing the elements, two expert analysts
analyzed the information and converted it into a quantitative data. The preliminary
study results showed that women answered most questions concerning socio-cultural
problems (95) and least answered were concerning legal matters (19). From the
pilot study results the main real questionnaire form was developed and published.
The main questionnaire form contained 48 questions, based on Likert which would
allow measuring the difference or the intensity of a character, with five answering
column each of which represented the degree or level of response to the particular
question. These columns had headings of:
The dependent variants which were under investigation were view point
of women. These were:
The independent variances were:
||Level of education
||Years of work and experience
||Field of education
Case study, Bahrain: Bahrain is an archipelago situated on the edge
of Persian Gulf between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It is an Islamic state with
a population of seven million people and the area of 694 km2. About
41.49% of the population is women who represent 25% of the work force which
is considerably greater then 17.5 and are part of the work force (Al-Najjar,
2005) 44.6% of the population work with the age range of 15-65. The country
is a principality and is ruled by Al Khalifa family. On December 16th 1971 the
country joined the United Nation and in 1973 following demonstration and pressure
from people the country acquired parliament (Sayed Ali, 2002).
Bahrain has demonstrated socio-political development since it joined
UN and the changes have been perceptible despite the opposing elements
of the ruling Sheikhdom. In March 2005 the council of women, as a national
strategy for women advancement and development, was established. On this
occasion the Caliph suggested, as a good will, the followings:
||Greater in crease in awareness of women with regard
to their legal rights with respect to all aspects of their life
||Establishment of agencies in provinces in order to provide and create
ground for greater integration of political role along with employment
merging with family roles and responsibilities
||Finalization of laws pertaining family matters in such manner that the
equality and justice shall be practiced in all matters concerning women
in Bahrain. In 2001 the parliament passed a bill to legalize teaching democracy
and human right subjects in primary and secondary schools. The legislative
power requested the ministry of education to put the bill into effect (Almezel,
This study, with particular emphasis on women, investigates the roles of women
in lasting social developments and the levels of their participation in various
forms, in Bahrain. The main objective of this research was to study the elements,
facilitating or deterring, involved in women participation in social activities
from their point of views and by analyzing their viewpoints, deal with their
participation in social, cultural and legal activities in their societies. To
be able to proceed with the study and research it would be possible to propose
the following pivotal questions and seek answers in order to fully understand
and appreciate the fundamental elements compelling them to participate in social
activities (Khonji, 2004).
Is there any relationship between women participation in their society
||Standard level of education?
||Field of education?
||Years of work and experience?
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
At the out set, it seems necessary to discuss the theoretical approach
of the subject.
The question arises here is this: What parameters cause women not to
be able to enter different social activities within the society easily and without
any prejudices? What factors and elements affect their active participation?
Legal consideration: From legal point of view, women do not have great
input in legislating laws pertaining their welfare and affairs. Legislative
laws regarding womens rights are usually considered and passed irrespective
of their real exigencies and time relevancies. Patriarchal legislative influences
with respect to womens rights, in many facets, especially in Arab countries,
are evident and the current existing laws in these countries prove that the
laws relating to family life, for example management, divorce, finance and labour
laws, are all based on gender biases (Kar, 1999). In Arab
countries, gender roles and dynamism is based on traditional model and it has
four elements in itself:
||Within the family core, instead of a person as the cardinal unit
of the society in which men and women have a complementary role but
not equal, both men and women are considered as a valuable cultural
wealth of the family
||Men are known as the sole breadwinner of the family
||The family status, honour, difference and modesty are all upon the
shoulders of womens honour and modesty and this in turn has placed
limitations upon both genders relationship
||Imbalances in personal power are reflected within the family laws
The paradigm assumes that women marry in early age and their responsibilities
within the family and the society as a whole would consist of being housewives
and mothers. Men are the head of the family who protect and support their
family financially. Women shall depend on their mens support and protection
and men shall control their wives and children and shall consider their
wives wishes and activities in general.
The paradigm in Arab countries in the Gulf can be generalized as the
||Women economical participation in employment opportunities are limited
and unsatisfactory because they leave their jobs either when they
marry or when they expect a baby
||There is job and salary discrimination and this trend disappoints
and disillusions women because they think their work is worthless
||Labour laws, in this region, prohibit discrimination against women
but in some sections it discourages employers to employ women. In
some Arabian countries, Women according to the law, must obtain permission
from their male relative to go on business travel where as in Bahrain
this law is not enforced and men and women have equal rights to travel
without having have to obtain permission. And of course these conspicuous
limited freedoms of movement are detrimental to the well being of
In view of progressive improvement in areas such as education, socio-economic
structure growing political awareness in societies, a serious review and reevaluation
of laws regarding women progress and development must take place (Chamlou,
Education parameters: Women education must be evaluated quantitatively
and qualitatively. Effective education can reduce the negative structural
aspect of participation of women in the development and progress. Women
education not only increases the family income but also due to their influence
in the family they would have extensive and broad effect in the society.
Working conditions in the markets are such that inequalities in many
aspects become intensified. For every five male managers there is only
one female manager, yet, women are all subject to all kinds of discriminations.
With due regard to the fact that any capital investment in educating women
shall have a better return than that of men, therefore if the chasm between
men and women are closed, undoubtedly society shall benefit immensely from its
human wealth resources (Schultz, 1990).
Investment in education not only diminishes the gender gap, but it also
promote the level of profit, increases productivities and income. For
this reason, in the past decades, Arab governments in the Persian Gulf
have invested 5.3% of their gross domestic products in education, which
has been the highest investment so far.
Statistical data provide us with the information that women students and female
university educational board member numbers have been increasing in such rates
that in some faculties the government has had to ration the number of female
board members (Koolaee and Hafezian, 2006). The rate of
illiteracy in Bahrain in the year 2000 for female has reached 17.4% which indicates
that politicians in this country have put greater emphasis on education especially
where women are concerned. Many of these countries citizens have advocated
and demanded gender segregation and the government was obliged to establish
university for women in July 2005.
Social parameters: Women activities in a society arise from their social
bases and the role they perform within the society. Social status of a woman
in the society is exactly the value given by the society to her for the role
and the consequential obligation she has. The role is the collection of activities
and duties and the social base or value is the status arising from the performances
of those activities and obligations or duties (Alagheband,
1997) states that every person, in his/her life, accomplishes various levels
of status and enacts and performs all the roles. On other way, the concept of
role and base or status refers to a single phenomenon. Base is a collection
of status or social position and values and role reflects the manner and behavior
of social status. The first group (status) is entrusted to people based on gender,
age and race and the second group (role) are assigned according to the individual
efforts and being nominated by the society.
In societies where traditions play major role in day to day life, the
status is based on gender, age and race. In modern societies, however,
social status of a person is based on individual performance and selection
by the society. The meaning of role in any situations implies series of
behavioral expectations and reciprocal expectations from other roles.
This means role play expectations are entirely mutual and commonly shared
equally. When the leaders of an organization value and respect their female
executive, then surely all the staff and subordinates will follow the
same behavioral manners. Social roles are learned while living and accepting
gaining experience in the society and the learned person, with knowledge
of the values of these roles, apply them (Hellriege et al., 1985).
It should be borne in mind that roles are dynamic forces of motivations
and play major role in developing personal characters.
Absence of important role playing in management and politics in the society
prevent promotion for women and as a result stop them participating in
any areas of decision making concerning their life.
Cultural parameters: Absence of women participation in social
activities can be attributed to incorrect beliefs with respect to womens
potentials and abilities in Arab societies. These negative views and the
presence of fanaticism suggest that women are week, feeble, emotional
and have no self confidence and hence unsuitable and incompetence. In
the course of time women have consciously accepted these negative claims
and exhibited them. From psychological point of view individual behave,
react and respond to situations according to other peoples perspective
and expectations, they have about the person.
Personal growth, self confidence and her point of view with respect and regard
to herself shall only be positive and constructive when she can take part and
be involved in social activities. Every society has its values and methodology
to carry out its activities and expect its members respond accordingly (Handoussa,
How does a woman acquire a positive image of herself? Social psychologists
believe that the concept of self is learned through a complicated process
throughout life by individuals. This concept is a belief that an individual
earns within the society and their assistances. Believing in her capabilities,
she must have the opportunities to compare herself with others and look
upon herself from other people point of views.
Descriptive results: In this survey the number of people answered
the questionnaire (statistical population) were 331. The population level
of education distribution was as Table 1.
The mean of age of the population was 35 and the age range was 18-62.
The mean of years of employment in the population was 13, with range of
1-34. The marital status of the population was as Married, 76.7, single,
19.6 and Divorced, 4.
Inference of the results: As mentioned previously, the view point
of women regarding their participation in social development issues in
the society were depicted in five dependent variables namely socio-cultural,
personal, family, legal and educational. According to Likrat methodology,
the value given to each category the Strongly agreed was 5, agreed was
4, indifferent was 3, disagreed was 2 and strongly agreed was 1.
Questions the view point of women regarding their participation:
The results show that the highest mean belongs to legal question followed
by family and education with lowest figure representing personal matter
questions. The Analysis of question was as in Table 2.
Relationship between dependent and independent variables: Is there
any meaningful relationship between women view points with regards to
their participation in social activities and their level of education?
As it can be seen from the Table 3. The results obtained
here confirm absence of any relationship. Despite the fact that the mean
value of the population with no diploma is the lowest and that of the
Ph.D holders the highest, the difference between the six means, according
to analysis of variance with the F value of 1.93 and 95% level (p = 0.80)
is significance and therefore it is possible to say that they are all
equal. In other words women with low level of academic education and ones
with the highest education level share the same opinions with respect
to their participation in social activities.
|| The population level of education distribution
||Analysis of questions the view point of women regarding
|| Mean difference in women view points in participation
in social conducts with respect to their level of education
|| Mean differences versus marital status
Table 3 shows the mean difference in women view points
in participation in social conducts with respect to their level of education.
The next part of the survey was to address the marital status of women
and their social activities. Table 4 shows that there
is no significant relationship in the statistical data. This means, according
to the analysis of variance, the hypothesis does not work. The mean of
value for single women is 179.64 which is the highest figure and the lowest
value belongs to women married again (171.66). The observed difference
in means, according to the analysis of variance (skewed distribution)
with F = 0.588 and p = 0.69 has no significance. In other words, the population
is not the same.
The next part of the survey was to determine the relation between the
field of education of the sample population and their participation in
social activities. Test of the hypothesis prove that there is a direct
connection between the field of education and the participation of women
social works. The mean average for women studied theology (175.8) is considerably
less than that of women studied nursing (184.35). The observed means among
the other seven variables with F value of 3.37 and at above 95% level
(p = 0.002) is significant. The trend is found to be the same in the filed
of medicine when it is compared with theology.
The next question in the survey was related to the women participation
in the society and their age. The mean values for women in their 45 and
above is more than those at lesser age groups. There is, however, no significant.
There is, however, no significant difference among the population.
Table 6 shows the mean difference in age of women and
their social participation in the society.
Table 7 shows some inter relationship or correlation
between some of the independent variables with regards to women view points
in the elements of their participation in social developments.
||Mean difference versus field of education
|| Mean difference in age of women and their social participation
in the society
|| Correlation between independent variables
|*Correlation at significant level of 0.05
to the hypothesis two elements of age and years of employment have meaningful
relationship with women view point regarding their participation in social
development in the society. There is no significant correlation between
family perception point of views versus age and years of employment. Similarly,
there is no correlation between age and years of employment versus education
and personal perception point of views. There is, however, a week correlation
between age and years of employment versus socio-cultural and legal view
point of women with respect to their participation in social development
in the society. Here the Pearson correlation value and significant level
are 0.16 and 0.99 (99%), respectively.
View point relationship with research variables: The analysis
of skewed variances (AVONA), regarding the variables under study (age,
level of education and marital status) versus observed variable, showed
that, except for the field of education, when F = 3.37 and the level of
significant, p = 0.002, there was no correlation between the theoretical
expectation and the observed ones. In other words, based on the given
population, women view points with respect to their participation in social
development activities, have no correlation with variables under the study
except for the education element.
Closer statistical analysis of the different observing variables (individual
rights, personal social rights, educational rights and socio-cultural
rights) and the independent variables have shown that, when p = 0.004,
F = 3.53, there is a correlation between the level of education and legal
point of views of women. It appears that women education levels have greater
influence on their perception regarding legal aspect of participation.
Analysis of variance (skewed) of field of education for women with respect
to individual and socio-cultural and legal view point have a positive
correlation. F-value, when p = 0.003 and p = 0.001, is significant. It
is, therefore, possible to predict that field of education for women can
be assured as the element influencing their participation in social development
projects with respect to individual and socio-cultural view points. When
we look at the results of the analysis of variance of age and years of
work experiences, versus social development participation, we find that
family perception versus years of employment for women have no correlation.
Similar situation is true when we consider education and personal perception
against age and years of employment. There is, however, a week correlation
between women socio- cultural perception and their participation in social
development in the society (Pearson correlation at p = 0.16 and significance
greater than 99%). It appears that women perception are greatly influenced
by structural element in the society and thus variable like age years
of employment level of education have no significant correlation.
In the analysis and interpretation of mental perception, what manifest
the most is that peoples perceptions are mental or conceptual epiphany
or discernment. The truth, however, is that although perception emanate
from human personality and necessity, it is the reflection of beliefs
and convictions from the society which the person belongs to. Eric Freom
believes that basis on which the fabric of a family is constructed can
form, shape and influence the persons responses to the political movements.
Perception of women with regard to her status and circumstances in the
society arises from roles and responsibilities she acquires in her life
span. Roles (and function) are considered to be the dynamic motivating
power of behavior which has an influential share in the way individuals
react and respond to social stimuli. Roles and the acceptance of them
gives sense and definition and therefore accepts and performs them.
Women perception of participating in social issues in the society arises
from the roles, responsibilities that the society bestows upon and expectation
it has from them. Every society has its values, manners and methods, activities
and experiences and accordingly it has expectation and it demands responses
from its members. Individuals learn their roles and responsibilities and
become aware of the expectation and respond accordingly. A Persons capability
and worthiness form from other peoples reflections and behaviors. Like
a mirror presenting image of an object, reflection of peoples behavior
form image of the society.
Women perception about participating in social issues in the society
can form from sociability, education, work experience, age, labour laws
and so on. Women view points about social issues can considered from different
The study out come shows that elements encourage women participate in
social activities and issues pertaining their welfare or preventing them
to take part in many different arenas pertaining their interests are considerable
and need further research and study.
Elements promoting women participating in social issues in order of importances:
Individual perspective includes self confidence and self belief; determination
and perseverance; having definite aim and goals; having organized plan
of action and prioritize objectives; having strong will powers and spirit.
Having high level of education. Family perspective includes spouse full
support; spouse awareness of issues; acceptance of domestic work by the
family so that women can participate in their social activities. As the
social perspective, Presence of facilities at work, for example nursery
school and hygiene centers; improving equal right opportunity and meritocracy
for women; presence of women in higher echelon in management, persuade
men to accept women participating in the society development issues.
Element preventing and prohibiting women participating in social issues:
Gender discrimination at work; gender pay and benefit discrimination for
the same job and responsibility; presence of legal and lawful right discrimination
which prohibit women participating in social issues for women (Legal issues).
People perspective and reflection and thought on participating in social
issues in the society; domination of ma power culturally and in government
where women are considered as an object at the disposal of men and children;
despite women being educated and becoming economically independent, their
participation in social issues in the society has not come to full fruition.
This is a universal patriarchal problem that still exists and practiced
in many places (Cultural perspective).
Women have two separate responsibilities, at home and at work. Absence
of women in social decision making due to social and cultural restrains
to which would inevitably cause damage for women and the society; identity
crisis; loss of self confident; becoming isolated; helplessness and frustration;
these are all consequential complications that will affect absence of
women participating in developing social issues. It is conceivable that
changes taking place in short terms are impossible and they perhaps require
long term planning, but as the expert claim if social relationships are
all based on patriarchy, presence of man managing order in the society
would influence the power and responsibilities share in his favour and
this in turn would aggravate the social and political chasm that exists
between the two genders (Personal or individual participation perspective).
We should like to take the opportunity and express our gratitude and
appreciation to all the people, who gracefully helped us to complete this
study. In particular, we would like to thank Mr Ali Katani, Reza Mahhali
and Mohammad Zakermoshfegh. We do hope this study will pave the way for
women throughout the world to improve their socio-politico-economical