Gender and Law in the Middle East

Author: Matthew Roy

School/Organization:

University City High School

Year: 2011

Seminar: The Middle East Through the Eyes of Women

Grade Level: 9

Keywords: foreign affairs, gender, Middle East, women

School Subject(s): Social Studies, Global History

Since September 11, 2001, the Middle East has assumed an especially prominent role in many
Americans’ thoughts on foreign affairs. Given the historical and cultural differences between this
region and the United States, the sudden importance of the Middle East allowed for a variety of
stereotypes to take hold. Due the attacks of September 11, terrorism often comes to the forefront
of many students’ minds when examining this part of the world. However, the somewhat
common images of veiled Middle Eastern women also have led to the view that gender-based
discrimination prevails throughout these countries. This curriculum unit offers the opportunity to
assess the extent to which this perception accurately defines the Middle East in terms of its
countries’ laws.

Students will examine the ways in which a person’s gender determines his or her place within the
legal system as well as the effects of such differentiation on the larger society. The School
District of Philadelphia’s curriculum for World History touches upon numerous Middle Eastern
states over the span of thousands of years. Consequently, this curriculum unit presents the
opportunity to identify the diversity of legal systems and their treatment of women as distinct
from men. Through an examination of the laws themselves, the stories of the people affected by
them, and historians’ interpretations of available material, students can decide whether or not
gender-based discrimination has existed or does exist in the laws of Middle Eastern countries.
This prompts the discussion of the ways in which social factors influence the writing of laws and
the reciprocal impact of laws on society. Within the 9th grade World History class for which this
unit is designed, students can develop their reading, writing, and research skills with a focus on
analytical reasoning and decision-making.

Download Unit: 11.04.05.pdf

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