Middle Eastern Women: Their Lives in Harems

Author: Sandy O’Keefe


Rudolph Blankenburg School

Year: 2011

Seminar: The Middle East Through the Eyes of Women

Grade Level: 7

Keywords: harems, Middle East, Ottoman Empire, women

School Subject(s): Social Studies

It is difficult to find information about Middle Eastern women in history because men
recorded most of what is written in the history books. Without this information and
understanding, the western world places general stereotypes on women who come from a
different social class, occupation and point of view. As educators, our job is to make sure
that we present and make available information on all social classes and from multiple
points of view for our students.

This unit will explore the lives of women who lived in harems in the Middle East. It will
also discuss the misconceptions commonly held by westerners in regards to harems.
Several images are included throughout the unit which depict harems.
Seventh grade students in the Philadelphia School District take a social studies course
called Eastern Hemisphere. Students study the five continents in the eastern hemisphere
and there is only so much time allotted to study this entire time period and our textbooks
rarely mention or discuss women’s views, struggles or lives. This unit will allow for an
exploration of women who lived in harems during the Ottoman Empire and will discuss
their lives within the palace.

Download Unit: 11.04.04.pdf

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