Monday, May 10, 2010

Who's got the problem?

Here's an interesting quote:  "This is the problem in Libya - the women." I found it in a small news article: here

I disagree... the problem in Libya are the control freak men these woman are married to ... sigh.... I see so many educated girls that get married and stay home, not because they want to, but because their husbands insist. I cannot understand why girls spend so much time studying and then have to give it all up because their husbands want a stay-at-home wife. Why didn't they just marry an uneducated girl in the first place?  I've met female dentists whose husbands made them quit working after they got married because they didn't want them working on male patients. Why did they marry a dentist if they felt that way? Why do these girls just give in and agree to give up their careers? Are they so afraid of becoming spinsters? Why can't they be married and have a career too? 

Some women I've spoken with have told me that they have a degree and that it's some security in case they have to go out to work in the future. But how can they rejoin the workforce after being away? Can a doctor, dentist, pharmacist, etc. take an extended break from their career and then step right back in again?  I doubt it. 

Libyan men think they are the center of the universe... and I guess their women must think that too. I've even noticed that many Libyan girls give up blogging when they get married. sigh...


  1. I, too, disagree with the statement that was made in Cairo. I was quite shocked actually since most comments from him are quite informed. This was a rather backward statement. It is never, never a waste of money to education women. It does have a positive impact on the family and these women may re-enter the workforce.
    It is something that many countries went through back in the 50s when women were educated but once married were expected to be back in the home. Development and economics will help lead to some of these changes in Libya too. Look how far Libya has come, so the story is really just in its beginning.

  2. Thanks for the comment anonymous... this story is just the beginning but I think it will be slow to progress, maybe a bit quicker in the capital.

    Last year I had a conversation with a young man from Zliten, which is roughly a two hour drive from the capital, Tripoli. He was of the opinion that women should leave the house twice in their lives; once on their wedding day and again when they leave their home on the day they die (in their coffin). I found his remark offensive. He said it in all seriousness - he truly believes this. I wonder how many Libyan men feel the same way.

    My own mother-in-law went shopping in Libya for the very first time when she was about 65 years old (after her husband died and she finally found some freedom). And none of my sister-in-laws went shopping until it was time to buy their wedding clothing. I took one of my sister-in-laws and was shocked to find that she had no idea how to behave in a shop. She had to be coaxed into the door and I had to handle all of the transactions. Which felt strange, seeing that I was the foreigner.

    Attitudes are changing, but slowly, so slowly.

  3. I saw this article too an was surprised. But I had to wonder if he meant it the way it sounds. Part of me wondered if it was his way of encouraging women to do "more" than stay home and have children-though as a stay-at-home mom I find homekeeping and raising children to be a high calling.

    I also considered that if he did mean it the way the media interpreted it then, again, what's wrong with that? Wouldn't he want educated women leading and nurturing the next generation? Just because they are "only" wives and mothers, their education is not a waste or useless in my opinion. :)

  4. Thanks for the interesting post Khadija , I agree with anonymous, and agree with you when you said, the changes are slow , it's too slow, or maybe we feel so because we're looking forward to it

  5. I expect your daughters will be in the forefront of women who make good use of their education - with encouragement from you. Maybe a small part of the funds for women's education should be diverted to raise men's consciousness! Unfortunately, it's not enough to provide funds for women's education - society at large has to be taught (and I really mean taught) to accept these changes.

  6. I have to say, i do somewhat agree with the article.
    He's not saying educating women is a waste, but that the culture of these women puts little or no importance on their careers. In that way, they don't make good on the money invested in them by the state.
    It's no different to saying that so-and-so course is a waste of the state's money, because all the graduates go and work in the private sector.

    ALL my female relatives put having kids before a job, let alone a careers.
    Most of my aunties from my dad's side, genuinely don't know the major landmarks of the city they've lived in their whole lives.
    The mindset of the women themselves needs to be changed. There's more to life than breeding.


  7. It's strange, because I have seen a very different side of this. There are men in Libya who just sit by while there wives are working. The women are teachers for the most part. But here in the US there are many Libyan woman who have come for their eduction. I know 2 Libyan woman who are Dr's and one who is studying to be one. Out of these 3 women, 2 of the husbands stay home - house husbands. When these women return to Libya, they will work, I don't know if there husband will.

  8. I used to think Libyan women are oppressed - most can't work, can't drive, can't shop, have to follow husbands/brothers rules, have to be stuck at home and serve as baby factories.

    However... as I learned more about their lifestyles it got me thinking that they have it pretty nice and easy in life. They don't have to work, they can stay home and take care of their family, they can have as many kids as they wish. They just hang out with friends, dress up for lavish parties, take it easy, relax and worry about very little. Now take an average American woman. Most HAVE to work, can't be home to take care of the kids, can barely afford anything, worry about mortgages, commute, career, retirement investments, day care, saving for kids education.... etc. etc.. and are are basically really stressed out. Now who's oppressed? :)

    I realize what I'm saying is controversial and trust me I wouldn't want to give up my freedom and benefits available living in the west to trade places with a Libyan woman but in the grand scheme of things.... think about it.... their lives are not that bad at all.... nice and easy.

  9. Hi,
    Thanks for giving us a great blog and please keep the good work.
    Regarding the "lecture in Cairo", I think "he" has a point and actually it is a issue being addressed here in the West as well by many prominent professionals. For example, many doctors and healthcare leaders have been raising concerns about the increasing level of women in healthcare, especially in the primary health services, as many of these female doctors choose to drop out or take prolonged periods of time off to have families etc. leaving the system which is already straining in a lurch. A study in the UK which caused a lot of concern found that about 60% of women going into medical school were not working in the health service after 10 years. Lately in the US many people have been questioning the wisdom of having an increasingly female work force in primary healthcare who then leave the system at some point exacerbating the severe shortage of primary healthcare doctors. They have advised to try to attract more male doctors into the profession. Women should not take offence, it's not a question whether women are incapable, actually they have shown their worth and many are better than their male counterparts and have excelled in the professional world, but the reality is, whether women like it or not, they are still women and many choose to activate that part of their lives and have children, which for many means staying away from work for a while or indefinitely. Besides whether male or female, when you are sick, you would still want to be seen by a doctor ASAP, and not to be told your doctor has taken maternity leave or sorry your child has to wait longer because our clinic is short on doctors.

    The other issue is that in healthcare, the more you stay off work, the more deskilled and untrained you will become. Many people don't realize this, its dangerous to go back straight to work after being away for so long as new information and practices develop and being out of practice makes people lose part of their skills and training, Thus many of these people will need supervised training and re-entry to work.
    This whole problem happens in the west as well. So it's not just a Libyan/Arab phenomenon. It makes sense to have this discussion and find solutions, because I do believe that an answer can be found and it is a shame that we lose these women and their important skills when they do have other duties to fulfill.
    Thanks for raising this topic.

  10. "Why did they marry a dentist if they felt that way?"
    I guess, marrying a woman dentist and forcing her to become a housewife is a sort of a trophy for the man. If someone's wife has never been at the labor market and everybody suspects she would cost $ 0.73 there, nobody will be impressed if she remains at home after marriage as well. But to make a dentist stay at home - this is an achievement!

  11. While I agree that there are still too many shlafti, Neanderthal-types among Libyan men, I have to say I don't think it is *always* the case that men force their wives to stay home. One of the major reasons why Libyan women stay home after marriage is because they start having children. Sadly, even the most highly educated Libyan women that I've known, don't seem to know how to space their children out, and very frequently have a whole bunch of kids in rapid succession. There is nothing at all wrong with having children-I have quite a few myself lol-but if they were able to wait a couple of years or so between each of them, they might still be able to work if they wanted to, at least part time. But when a woman has a baby a year for 5 or 6 years in a row, it is almost impossible for her to work outside the home as well.

  12. i think both sides have made some true and interesting arguments, you see what everyone doesn't know is the next few facts:
    Jobs overall and in the health service especially for dentists and newly graduated doctors are scarce and are very competitive, so it is equally hard for women and men to get jobs.
    women are becoming more and more liberal in Libya each day, and the numbers of ladies being forced into marriage are lower each year.
    number of over 35 women who are out of wedlock is higher than ever in Libya this year (because of higher than ever divorce rate, late age marriages, decreased number of eligible bachelors due to economic circumstances).
    all that leads to increased polygamy numbers and more women accepting a stay at home role, and i think is equally as unjust as forcing women to get married.
    of course the decay of the Libyan education system didn't help the matter, no political artistic or public awareness education for women or men for that matter in both school and university levels insured that old concepts and traditions of women seeking only marriage as the only way of success to be dominant in a community that is so closed that a divorced or any single lady above a certain age would b considered as a shame to her entire family.
    the data was collected by my mom she is doing a study on the same subject.
    sorry for the long comment but i hope that you read it.


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