The roles of women within the three major religious groups have changed throughout the years. Their beginnings; as-well-as, their current situation, have played an important part in how women are viewed within the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic communities. For this paper, I plan to examine what those roles were and how women in these faiths are now CEO’s, business owners, and important leaders within their respective communities. Roles of women within the Islamic faith vary from country-to-country.
However, the roles of Islamic women are fairly standard and, in many countries, are open to interpretation based on how devoted they and their families are. The majority of Muslims live in more conservative countries, where women are required by law to be completely covered while in public or in the presence of men who are not family, or their husband. In these that require this of their women, those women are not allowed to work outside their homes. Their “job” is to maintain the household and tend to the children.
In westernized countries, the burqua is seen as a symbol of repression for Islamic women. But for most of the women who live in the countries where it is required, they see the burqua as a means of protection for unwanted attention by the opposite sex. The “dress code” for these women have changed in ways that might not be apparent to the outsiders, but women now wear heels, brightly colored nail polish and other things that many westerners take for granted. Another change for conservative Muslim women, is the allowance of women to compete for their countries in athletic events such as the Olympics.
They are still required to keep their legs covered, and are required to compete in their events wearing their head coverings and track suits. Conservative Muslim women are now allowed to walk around in public unaccompanied by a male, and they are slowing starting to enter the work force. Some Afghan women are even starting their own businesses outside their homes. In other Islamic countries where the laws concerning women aren’t as strict, women are attending public schools, universities, and raising up in the ranks of international corporations. The country of Jordan is one of these less strict countries.
In an interview with Queen Noor al-Hussin of Jordan back in 1983, she states that Jordan was in the midst of a five-year development plan which emphasized the role of women in the development of a more modern Jordan. Islamic women all over the world have been given greater opportunities for education from primary up through the university levels. This increase in educational opportunities have led Islamic women to be able to serve in parliaments; such-as the Egyptian Parliament and even in the Egyptian cabinet. Islamic women has also been named director of national television stations, and even the Minister of Culture for Syria was a woman.
It safe to say that Islamic countries, even those who are very traditional and conservative, are starting to realize that women are vital to their economy; as-well-as; vital to the needs of their own households. Within the next 20 years, Islamic women will no longer be forced to do anything they aren’t willing to do, nor suffer the harsh punishments that are dealt out when an Islamic woman wants to better herself. Furthermore, Islamic women in countries like Afghanistan, will continue to become heads of states, foreign dignitaries, business owners, and CEO’s, while maintaining their faith.
Women’s roles within the Jewish communities have also changed. Women are and were, seen has being the heart of the home. Their role, according to Jewish law, was to be the primary vehicle of religious expression. Though for the most part, their role cannot be defined as simply that of mother, sister, or wife, but it assumes different forms as each women develops herself accordance with the general parameters of Jewish law and philosophy. Their roles have always been central and considered an asset to the Jewish communities, yet, they were limited and traditional and dominated their identities.
In the more liberal synagogues, Jewish women now wear ritual garments and can read from the Torah, but at one time and even within the Orthodox Synagogues, women are forbidden to even hold a position of any meaningful leadership. However, a few years ago, a female was ordained as a Rabbi. This was a big step for Jewish women everywhere. It is now common in not only in a worship setting, but also, in a business setting for Jewish women; especially; women in the Orthodox Church, to hold jobs outside the home.
Not long ago, Jewish women were not allowed to study the Torah, a right that was reserved for strictly the men. However, women are now starting their own Torah prayer groups which are being led by those same women. This, among other changes have caused heated debates within the Jewish world. In the future, not only will women in the more strict synagogues become leaders within their communities, but will also become future CEO’s, which currently, they are not allowed to do. One prime example is Gold Meir, the first Jewish Prime Minister of Israel from 1969 to 1974.
If a Jewish woman can become Prime Minister, imagine what they could do, we could even have a Jewish woman as President of the United States. I saved Christianity for last. Christian women have had their own issues within the business world; however; since Christianity isn’t as strict as some of the other religions on what they considered to be the “proper” roles for women, their entrance into the business world was a bit easier. The roles of women within Christianity have changed. At one point, like in other religions, women were expected to take care of the household, their husbands and children.
Their education wasn’t up to the same standards as men, and were not allowed to discuss anything that was considered to be “mans” talk. Colleges and Universities were open to only men; whereas; women went off to “finishing” schools where they learned how to be a “proper” hostess, etc. Things started to change at the turn of the 20th century. Women started to become doctors, lawyers, and owned and operated their own businesses. They went to college and were determined to be educated the same as men were. Just recently the tide has shifted and there are almost as many women in the corporate world has men.
Some of those women even holding places of authority. Women will always have a place in the business world, regardless of their religion. Hopefully, those women who decide to go against the grain and become more than their communities feel they are, will help other women see their potential. Women may be able to manage a household, but there isn’t much of a difference between fighting children and fighting co-workers. They will and are using their “homemaker” skills in the business world and in the future, will led to better businesses, less ethical issues and a higher economy.