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Arab Women: Duality of Deprivation in Decision-making under Patriarchal Authority

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This paper addresses the challenges impeding Arab women from fully participating in decision-making processes. A gender-based Dual deprivation is defined, analyzed and diagnosed as vicious and multi-layered circles surrounding women’s abilities to make decisions concerning their own lives on the one hand, and restricting their capacity to delve into established institutional mechanism of decision making, on the other hand. This “dual deprivation” not only isolates women from decision-making processes, even on issues directly impacting their lives, but also denies them the ability to act as agents of change and create an empowering environment, due to women’s absence from decision-making positions. Other challenges addressed include high fertility rates, circumcision, early marriage, domestic violence, and inequitable laws. Employing testimonial interviews with women from various countries in the Arab World, the data offer in-depth analysis of the status of men and women, in relation to decision making in the private and public spheres in Arab societies. Findings show some progress despite its insufficiency, confirming that authority is still patriarchal in Arab countries. The study also shows that as opposed to men, women tend to be more participatory and democratic in their decision-making processes, veering towards ending conflict and favoring dialogue. Other issues addressed include high fertility rates, circumcision, early marriage, domestic violence, and inequitable laws. An action plan regarding social, economic, legislative, cultural, administrative, political, and communicative issues is recommended for women’s empowerment.


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Affiliations: 1: Birzeit University and Arab World for Research and Development—AWRAD, Email:; 2: University of Washington Seattle, Email:


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