Women in the Workplace: Shari'ah and Contemporary Perspectives
An attempt is made in the following pages to expound Shari’ah positions on women’s right to work and her freedom to choose the work she undertakes, and then also to own its proceeds regardless of her marital status. It is important to explain the Islamic perspective in this regard as it is influential in determining public perceptions among Muslims even if statutory legislation may have ruled on the rights in question. Yet one of the challenges of general concern is also that the Shari’ah positions on women’s rights are often conflated with patriarchal customs that undermine women’s rights. Women’s conditions vary widely among Muslim countries and regions which tend to have cultural characteristics of their own, and face similar but also different challenges. Yet perceptions and attitudes prejudicial to gender equality still persist to the effect that women should stay at home and those who try to secure outside employment should obtain their husband or guardian’s permission first. With the exception perhaps of educated professional women in urban centres, women who seek employment opportunities, let alone equal status with men, often risk loss of family support, even being ostracised, especially in places where the conditions of women have not changed much in recent decades.