About Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa (2010)
Sanja Kelly, Freedom House
Analysis, Evaluation Reports
Freedom House’s innovative publication, Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa, analyzes the status of women in the region through the prism of international standards embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The 2005 edition found that despite some evidence of progress toward equality in a number of countries, there was a pervasive gender-based gap in rights and freedoms in every facet of society: the law, criminal justice system, economy, education, health care, and the media.
The 2010 edition of Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa is a five-year retrospective review of improvements or setbacks made to women’s rights in the MENA region. Its analysis covers events that occurred from mid 2004 until October 2009, picking up where the 2005 edition ended. This unique survey, which combines quantitative ratings with a qualitative, narrative analysis for each MENA country or territory, is necessary in light of the international scrutiny given to the status of women in this region. By providing thorough, cross-regional analysis of the legal and societal realities of MENA women, the Women’s Rights report is able to act as an objective tool for international development agencies, governments, scholars, and journalists, as well as a means of empowerment for women’s rights activists in the region.
The methodology questions encompass the entire spectrum of rights acknowledged in the UDHR, thereby addressing all aspects of women’s lives rather than concentrating solely on one set of rights. Each country is scored on a scale of 1 (no rights) to 5 (most rights) for 44 discrete questions that address five subcategories: Non-Discrimination and Access to Justice; Autonomy, Security, and Freedom of the Person; Economic Rights and Equal Opportunity; Political Rights and Civic Voice; Social and Cultural Rights.