Good What Role Do Women Play In Sectarian Society? Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Women, Society, Gender, Family, Children, Middle East, Belief, Role

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/24

Introduction and Thesis Statement

Sectarianism is a term that arouses different emotions, perspectives and opinions thus it is hard to come up with an open definition of sectarianism. The term sectarianism comes from the term ‘sect.’ A sect is a community that pledges allegiance to certain beliefs and values from the past. Even though such beliefs belong to the past, they represent the ideologies and class concepts of the particular sect. Such beliefs act as myths and guide the behavior of members of the community. The other definition of a sect is a group of people born into certain beliefs (Hermez 182). The beliefs exist cosmetically because they fail to serve as the basis of members of the sect relating to the larger society. Therefore, sectarianism refers to a barrier against a group of people based on inherited beliefs. It implies that sectarianism attempts to turn diversity into a conflict. Even though sectarianism is highly associated with religion, the most conspicuous observation is that it is gendered in terms of its relationship with masculinity. Existing patriarchal structures and religious institutions are promoting a sectarian barrier against women. Women are facing numerous barriers such as discrimination and exclusion thus their access to protection and equality remains limited. Despite all these challenges, women have a central role in advocating for equality and protection to promote diversity.


The term ‘sectarianism’ originated from Lebanon. For a very long time, women have struggled in Lebanon in their quest for gender equality in a society that favors the boy child over the girl child. The perceptions of the Lebanese society suggest that women are relatively progressing in their quest for their rights and gender equality. The story of Mai Ghoussoub in “Missed Opportunities: Me and my Gender” reveals the prevalence of sectarianism in Lebanon during the 1950s and 1960s. It also reveals the progress women have played in promoting their rights and gender equality over the years. The beliefs and tenacity of women have transformed what was once a male-dominated society to a society that appreciates diversity (Hermez 528). Hermez reveals how much women are still facing sectarian barriers such as political participation and the right to their bodies.
During the era of Ghoussoub’s mother, people in Lebanon were shy to be associated with the girl child. For instance, Ghoussoub mother’s doctor was disappointed with the birth of a girl child. He felt like the birth of a girl child would tarnish his reputation as a doctor. However, Ghoussoub’s was proud of her newborn daughter. She insisted on raising the child her way, but it was evident that society had an overarching role in raising children. Fast forward the era of Ghoussoub and women are fighting for their rights and gender equality. Even though her mother was dropped out of school at the age of sixteen to go and marry her father, Ghoussoub pursued her education up to the university level. Women experience sectarian barriers for a very long time, and it is imperative that society gives them the opportunity to spearhead diversity. Society needs to include their voices and analysis when developing anti-sectarian approaches. The reason is that sectarianism has affected women, and they have agency in the issue but are afraid to engage in it. Society should provide women with a safe space to articulate such issues.


Women are currently the invincible and exploited working class. Researchers agree that most of the workers are subjected to exploitation in numerous ways. However, women are the ones exposed to the harshest forms of exploitation. The fact that women are being exploited is not well document by official statistics because women form a negligible size of laborers and are mostly considered economically inactive. The reality is that most of the women who work are invincible because they are either working in the informal sector or are working in households. The current patriarchal society has established double standards by not considering that they work in households as economic valuable. Consequently, society is denying many women their primary role of labor to the family and their society is not recognizing their efforts to offer labor in the household. Therefore, women should assume the role of crusaders so that society can appreciate their efforts and respect their rights as equal members of society.
Women have introduced an informed gendered analysis into the work and efforts of organizations that are fighting anti-sectarian agendas. Many organizations are addressing gender issues including violence and discrimination, but women have brought in a deeper understanding of how gendered systems and structures promote sectarianism. In fact, women are sharing their experiences with sectarianism thus revealing how such beliefs are being promoted through daily family and community interactions. Ghoussoub presents her mother’s story on how Lebanese society perpetuated various sectarian barriers before women (Ghoussoub 397). For instance, the Lebanese society viewed children to the extent that parents urged them to pursue academic qualifications dominated by men so that they could feel like they had male children. Ghoussoub’s mother was happy that she could compete and even outshine her male counterparts in science subjects. During the 1950s and 1960s, men dominated science subjects, and very few women had the privilege of going to school.
Access to education has created awareness among women about their rights and position in society. Unlike in the past, when women were ignorant of their rights, women are now aware of their rights because education has exposed them to the outside world. Women have been in oblivion for a very long time, but they have now seen the light and are pursuing every option to preserve their rights. For instance, women are increasingly creating awareness of the high levels of sectarian barriers through campaigns and writings. In the book “Missed Opportunities: Me and my Gender,” Ghoussoub raises awareness of the struggles women experience in a male-dominated society. She mentions how society looked down upon women and how she was forced to act like a tomboy for the sake of being accepted by society (Ghoussoub 399).
Centuries ago, “factory girls” were being exposed to unfair working conditions in factories during the early days of industrialization in Lebanon (Hermez 530). In response, they organized themselves according to their needs and mobilized their tools to change their working conditions. The most interesting thing is that these women formed a union to achieve their objective of fair working conditions. The same thing is taking place these days whereby women have formed nongovernment organizations to spearhead their quest for protection and gender equality. According to Hermez (p. 183), women have been involved in the fight against sectarianism and clientelism in Lebanon after the 2011 Arab Uprising and are increasingly taking an active role in politics.


Women have assumed the role of crusaders and raising awareness of the gender limitations that the sectarian society is promoting. In response to these limitations, women have come together to fight for their protection and gender rights. The process of coming together has enabled women to challenge and rebel against stereotypes and limitations imposed by the sectarian society. Such experiences reveal the role of women as crusaders in the quest to promote diversity in a sectarian society.

Works Cited

Ghoussoub, Mai. Missed Opportunities: Me and my Gender. In Selected Writings by Ġuṣub, May, and Rebecca O'Connor. London: Saqi, 2008. Print.
Hermez, Sami. On Dignity and Clientelism. In Lebanon and the Arab World. 2011: 180-191.

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