Study dismantles false myths about women’s inactivity at work…

Women in the Arab space have played a crucial role since the Middle Ages. It has played an irreplaceable role in the childbirth and lactation of children and has become the centerpiece of family support: from food to emotional support, including education, physical and health care or domestic work. . But not only. It has also been running since ancient times paid jobs characterized by the dominant culture as “productive”such as bakers, cooks, spinners, hairdressers or domestic workers.

This is demonstrated by a study published by Carmen Garratón Mateu, researcher in contemporary Arab studies at the University of Granada (Spain), in an article entitled “Working trajectories of women in the Arab space”. The work was included in the scientific journal Al Andalus Maghreb and alludes to three other articles, also inserted in the same volume, signed by I will desireand Lopez Bernal, Carmelo Perez Beltran Yes Rosa Salgado Suarez.

The text reflects on the work spaces occupied by Arab women throughout history from a gender perspective and offers a renewed and critical vision on the role assigned to it by the patriarchal framework of thought. Carmen Garraton It is proposed to make visible the “active role of women” not only in productive but reproductive work. “The dominant discourse, without a gender perspective, does not take into account the work of women in the informal sector”, explains the researcher.

Neither official statistics nor conventional economic analyzes have detected the work activities carried out by women in different Arab contexts, explains the professor of Arab studies. Women operating in the “informal sector” have never been taken into account in the files of activity. Precisely to avoid this invisibility, defends Carmen Garratón, it is necessary to apply the perspective gender in women’s studies.

In this sense, he quotes the Moroccan sociologist and feminist Fatima Mernissi, who declared in 1999: “Muslim women have always been present in society and where they do not appear, it is because they have been hidden”. The author of the article criticizes certain visions of Islam which read “biased”, “incorrect” and “misogynist” of the sacred text to establish a model of personal relationships where the man exercises “authority” and the “maintenance” of the family nucleus.

And it’s backed up by three articles, also included in the magazine, that testify that women have worked in trades to contribute to the family and the subsistence economy. Currently he supports Carmen Garraton, Arab societies are experiencing a growing process of change towards greater public recognition of equality. Today, Arab women have “greater professional training”, although women’s access to spheres of power “remains limited”. And adds: “We must continue to work to eliminate glass ceilings and the barriers that still exist to achieving true equality and tapping into the full potential of women.”

the article of Desiree Lopez Bernal is entitled “Scenes and Perceptions of Female Wage Labor in Adab Literature”. In the text, she reconstructs daily life in the Middle Ages and shows in which type of paid jobs it was common to observe the presence of women. The spinner was a typical female job for which women were “specially gifted”. It was also an activity that could be practiced in the private sphere. In his research, Lopez Bernal saves many references to hairdressers or carers of other women’s bodies.

There was a “certain social consensus” regarding these “women’s professions” and there was no social rejection in the communities of the time. But a paradoxical phenomenon has occurred: the subversion of the social order when the men had no income and the family was supported by the sole economic source of the woman. It was a shocking situation: the man was not contributing to the common subsistence and continued to be head of the family and holder of moral authority. This phenomenon, emphasizes Carmen Garratón, is quite common nowadays, due to the scourge of unemployment, emigration, widowhood and increasingly frequent divorces.

Carmelo Perez Beltran is interested in the contemporary era with his article “The integration of Algerian women into working life: a challenge to be met”. The author also recalls that the official statistics not including a gender perspective and ignore the high percentage of women working in the informal economy. The text reviews the years following the independence of Algeria, when the labor market began to open “timidly” to women. The new Algerian government has accepted that women work, provided that they do not neglect “their obligations inherent in the role of mother and wife”.

During these years, men were engaged in what were considered productive activities, while women worked in care, utilities, health, education, and administration. In the 1980s, liberalization and transition to a market economy. In this context, the promotion of women to positions of greater responsibility is encouraged, according to the researcher Carmelo Perez Beltran.

The third article quoted by Carmen Garratón is signed by Rosa Salgado Suarez and analyzes the panorama of the teaching of Moroccan Arabic dialect through two pioneering women that during the Spanish protectorate, they entered a field of work hitherto dominated by men.


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