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Bulletins Bulletin : Published and Discussed
Date: Sunday, March 03, 2002
From: ahmed
Religion and women development (answer to Kumropotash bhai)

First, let me clarify my stand. I don’t believe that religion is or was behind any ‘under-development’ of any country. It is the ruler of any country who uses religion to overpower the naïve citizens. And illiteracy makes it even easier to become people less vulnerable to their power grabbing formulae. So there’s nothing that religion is doing here but to be used as a tool to rule the country. You can see how the Talebans used religion in a bad way to rule the Afghanistanis. It’s like the knife with what you can kill or give life to someone. It’s the user who decides the treatment.

My intention is not to initiate a debate whether Cuba or Iran or any other country is doing well even after being sanctioned by the USA. My intention is not also to promote Saudi government’s policy on women development or not advocating for Saddam. What I wanted to establish is the women development in these countries are not subjected to religion but their rulers’ policy. To institute my belief I just raised some issues which do not show that religion is behind the under-development. However there are some more facts along with their sources:

In the area of the elementary education currently 99% of Iranian boys and 93% of Iranian girls are enrolled in elementary school. The chance for completing elementary education is 94% for boys and 93% for girls. These statistics indicate that the education gap between boys and girls has decreased by more than one-third as compared to the year 1990. The ratio of women to men in participating university entrance exams reached an unprecedented 52% women and 48% men in 1996. The percentage of women faculty members in humanities and medical sciences exceeded 35% in the same period. No barriers exist to women entering all fields of higher education while in medical fields a 50% quota exists for women.
You can find more truths about present women development in Iran at this page. Now, regarding Saudi Arabia you’ve asked me why it’s the case that men literacy is higher than women literacy. You have to understand that the “development” word needs to be defined by the particular society keeping under consideration of their cultural, economical and educational need or values. I hope you know that there’s a scale named as Human Development Index (HDI) which is formulated by the UNDP. I’ll quote a sentence regarding this index…”Although the concept of human development is complicated and cannot be properly captured by values and indices, the HDI, which is calculated and updated annually, offers a wide-ranging assessment of human development in certain countries, not based solely upon traditional economic and financial indicators” (source: Please note that human development cannot be uniquely defined. The women development in the US cannot be in any way an example of progress in any Arab country. If you are a human being you cannot reside outside a society, i.e. you have to accept the social custom. You cannot just start imposing the development plan of any western country on a conservative country. Imagine a society having 60% of children without any particular father (in Holland, for example). Now if you call that’s development, I am sorry. I cannot accept that. By only women literacy you cannot define the development. I am, of course, saying that literacy is one of the most important pillars of women development. But wouldn’t it be better if literacy could be adjoined with social custom, traditions and religion.

People Discussion
(Sunday, March 03, 2002)

Hi Ahmed, you can call me just kumropotash!
Actually I also said it in one of my messages a long time ago that religion itself is not good or bad. It depends on how people (who created it) use it.
Iran has become less religiously zealous since Khomeini’s demise. It’s not surprising that the education scenario for women has improved.
I am not saying that the western system is the best and everyone should follow it. I am saying that in Saudi Arabia, the way women are treated and viewed is not good and certainly not conducive to women development (true they have a different social and cultural orientation than the west which is partly because of religion but for this PARTUCILAR issue, they will be better of if they open up and take lessons from the west).

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