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Women, Work, and Economic Reform in the Middle East and North Africa

Valentine M. Moghadam
ISBN: 978-1-55587-785-9
1998/260 pages/LC: 97-26798
“Well researched, well documented, and highly readable.”—Steven C. Dinero, Third World Studies

“[Moghadam] offers a rich and convincing analysis of the changes in gender relations in the MENA region that have happened so far and may happen in the future.”—Rafat Fazeli, Journal of Women in Culture and Society

A well-reasoned account of the status of women in the economies of the MENA region that is substantiated by extensive evidence.... This book is a remarkable and valuable contribution.”—Iliya Harik, Middle East Journal

"The overall picture that emerges from this survey is that the MENA region remains one in which patriarchal relations remain strong and only limited gains have been made by women in renegotiating what might be termed the 'sexual contract' at the heart of state power—Paul B. Rich, Journal of Modern African Studies

“Moghadam presents a thoroughly researched study with a wealth of detail. Furthermore, she goes far beyond the regional unit specified in the title. While scrutinizing women’s employment patterns in the Middle East and North Africa, she considers gender and labor issues cross-culturally.”—Heather J. Sharkey, African Studies Review

“This monumental effort to document the recent histories of women and work in the Middle East and North Africa is enormously important.”—Journal of Developing Areas


Globalization and changing political economies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are affecting women's labor-force participation, educational attainment,  and access to economic resources. But are these changes in fact resulting in economic gains for women? And will this produce an intensification or a subversion of the patriarchal gender contract that has thus far characterized the region? Addressing these questions,this book examines the connections between gender relations and economic reform.

Moghadam begins with an overview of the political economy of women’s employment and education, followed by case studies from Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey.  In the final chapters of the book, she draws together data to explore future possibilities for gender relations in the MENA states.


Valentine M. Moghadam is professor of sociology and director of the International Affairs Program at Northeastern University.


  • Introduction.
  • The Political Economy of Women’s Employment.
  • Educating Women for a Globalizing Economy.
  • Case Studies of Economic Reforms and Working Women.
  • Morocco and Tunisia: Export-Led Growth and Working Women.
  • Turkey:  From Housewife to Worker?
  • Egypt: “Yes, It Can Get Worse Than This”
  • Structural Adjustment and Women’s Employment.
  • Jordan and Syria: Gender Ideology and Political Economy.
  • The Islamic Republic of Iran: The End of Ideology?
  • Women’s Employment Issues.
  • Algeria: Economic Liberalization, Political Crisis, and Women.
  • Responses and Strategies.
  • Structural Change.