Work and empowerment is a growing aspect in the female world of late. Most of the women have ventured into employment. This has widely affected their position in society.
Saudi Arabian women have had difficulty in defining their position in the family. Their role in the society includes the normal home chores and nothing more. Islam rules and regulations governed these women. Strictness of the law crushed the hopes and expectations of these women. From the short story Zainab, the author portrays a clear picture of Saudi Arabian women. He says that women should be at home (Ash-Shamalan 40).
Their duty is to take care of their spouses and carry out house chores. These include washing up utensils, cooking, cleaning the house, doing the laundry etc. In addition, women should be submissive to their husbands. In Duties of a working mother, Munawarr illustrate that taking proper care of the children is an obligation of the women (Munawwar 44).
He uses the character of Leila to bring out this scenario. Although she has a job as a teacher, she still has to ensure that the children have eaten and that their homework is submitted in time. When the guest visits her home, she is the one responsible for welcoming and preparing meals for them (Munawwar 45). Traditionally in the Middle East, the unmarried daughters have the least authority, and are to portray an attitude of difference and servitude. The role and status of women inside the household coincide with their role outside the house.
In Saudi Arabia, the voice of a woman has no weight. They have no authority to make decisions. When they get married, they are automatically bound by a contract that stipulates the extent a woman can go in decision making.
This same contract does not limit the husband’s decision making whatsoever. Nevertheless, the women are limited to playing their role of child rearing and housekeeping. These women thus find satisfaction and enhancement of their moral status spiritually. She has no say in deciding what she wants while under the care of her parents. The father decides for her the person to marry her (Al-Ulayyan 132). Suad encounters this when her father chooses a husband for her.
She could not resist this since daughters are not supposed to show resistance. When it comes to matters of decision making at work, the voice of the unmarried women is inconsequential. It is the duty of husbands to make decisions. Culture and custom hinders the participation of women in activities other than household chores. These cultures also dictate their limit of employment. According to them, employment of women and deploying labor of females in factories is immoral and dishonorable. Moreover, women attain power to speak to the authority of men as seen with Ahmad’s wife. Men gain control over home finances.
Having a job does not review the status of women in the family. Men still regard them as their property. The only job they have permission to do is teaching. If the husband feels this profession is hindering her wife to fulfill her household responsibility, he tells her to resign. In Duties of a working mother, Leila has experienced this for quite some time. The husband mounts pressure on her to resign so that she can concentrate on the household chores (Munawwar 45). Ahmad’s mother did not appreciate his wife when she decided to venture into teaching.
The mother in law insisted that she should stay at home. A woman’s contribution to the economy of the family does not influence her status in the family. Despite this contribution, she does not govern herself. The husband remains to be the breadwinner of the family. At work, women are at peace. They are happy to be earning and doing what interests them.
In Duties of a working mother, Leila is happy being a teacher. She does her work with commitment and makes children understand concepts with ease. As a result, she receives an appraisal from the administration of the school for a job well done. Women do not receive equal treatment at work simply because they are “economically dependent” and subservient. Employers regard married women as being dependant on the husbands’ salary and wages. There is no restriction of hiring men, yet there is a restriction on women.
There is a lot of discrimination in hiring of old and married women. The women work in difficult conditions for extremely little pay. (Cairoli 165) Women are not included in positions of textual authority and higher managerial tasks. The married women should motivate themselves to struggle for employment and recognition for being skillful. Relationships with the relatives also come with challenges. When a woman gets married, she gets a warm welcome into her new home, and the in-laws seem to be unusually friendly. The pain of leaving family is too much for them to bear.
This is evident in the story Zainab. At her in-laws, Zainab is a lonely stranger with no one to socialize and talk to apart from her husband. When she is unable to bear children, her mother in law subjects her to harsh words (Zeinab 41). Zainab’s disappearance became a crisis of the society. The husband reported the matter to her mother so that she can search for her. She is so infuriated that she denounces her and says she has brought shame to the family. Education is valuable to the women in Saudi Arabia. Most of them study in order to establish themselves and become independent.
All these women take their studies seriously. This is rampant across Asia. Women empowerment is the only solution to eliminating discrimination of Saudi Arabian women.
Ash-Shamlan, Shariff. “Zainab.” Voices of change: short stories by Saudi Arabian women. Ed.
Abubakar Bagader, Ava M. Heinrichsdorff and Deborah S. Akers. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Munawwar, Wafa. “Duties of a working mother.” Voices of change: short stories by Saudi Arabian women. Ed. Abubakar Bagader, Ava M. Heinrichsdorff and Deborah S.
Akers. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Al-Ulayyan, Qumashah. “I never lied.” Voices of change: short stories by Saudi Arabian women. Ed.
Abubakar Bagader, Ava M. Heinrichsdorff and Deborah S. Akers.
London: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Cairoli, Laetitia. Girl but Not Woman: Garment Factory Workers in Fez, Morocco.