Chapter

Gender and Development: Women's Rights, State, and Society

Nadia Ramsis Farah

in Egypt's Political Economy

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9789774162176
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9781617970337 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5743/cairo/9789774162176.003.0005
Gender and Development: Women's Rights, State, and Society

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This chapter discusses the interrelationships between women's status and development. The classical approach asserts that higher economic growth rates tend to improve the status of women. A new approach adopted by the World Bank in the 1990s affirms that women's status affects the development process, that is, in order to accelerate economic growth, gender gaps have to be narrowed and women's status has to improve dramatically. Nonetheless, a reduction of gender inequalities hinges on changes in gender power relations. The Egyptian state, through its inability or unwillingness to change the personal status laws, based on a very conservative reading of the shari'a, has undermined the ability of women to gain equality. The perpetuation of unequal gender relations in the private sphere affects the theoretical equality of women in the public sphere. The status of women also represents a political card for successive regimes since Egypt's declaration of independence in 1922. The state has many times ignored issues relating to women's equality in order to mollify Islamist and conservative political groups, whether in confrontation or in alliance with them. In short, the amelioration of women's status does not depend on economic development alone but, more importantly, on the articulation of political power relations in society as a whole.

Keywords: women's status; economic development; gender inequalities; political power

Chapter.  11731 words. 

Subjects: Political Economy

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