Poster Paper: The Impact of Religion on the Ratio of Female to Male Education Attainment in Conservative and Liberal Countries

Saturday, November 8, 2014
Ballroom B (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Sumaia Al-kohlani, Claremont Graduate University
As we move from the Arab Spring, several Arab countries are embroiled in debate over whether liberal or conservative religious political systems are better for the new, young governments that are struggling to arise.  A key element in deciding which is better is the effect on gender equality—both for human rights and for economic development reasons—and so studying the relationship between gender inequality and political systems is essential.  Will choices of more liberal religious political systems mean better gender equality? Will the dominance of conservative political systems result in weak gender equality? I test if gender inequality in education in the Muslim countries relates to the governments’ levels of religious conservativeness. For example, are conservative Muslim societies more likely to experience gender inequality in favor of males than the Muslim liberal countries? Like Muslim societies, are conservative non-Muslim societies more likely to experience gender inequality in favor of males than the non-Muslim liberal countries? Although measuring women’s rights and gender equality should not be limited solely to gender gap in education, this factor provides a good idea of where gender equality is heading.  I use ratio of female to male school enrollment in primary secondary and tertiary school as depend variables. For my main independent variables, I use the level of governments’ religious conservativeness (conservative, moderate conservative, moderate liberal and liberal) based on the role of religion as stated in countries’ constitutions, the percentage of females serving as political representatives, and governments’ commitment to  Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). I also use urbanization, fertility rate, oil production as my independent and control variables.  In this paper, I examine gender equality in education in 58 conservative and liberal countries from 1980 to 2010 in order to increase our understanding of the relationship between gender equality in these domains and religious political systems.