This paper summarizes the main findings of the 2010 edition of "Women's Rights in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The country reports presented in the edition detail how women continue to face systematic discrimination in both laws and social customs. Deeply entrenched societal norms, combined with conservative interpretations of Islamic law, continue to relegate women to a subordinate status. They are significantly underrepresented in politics and the private sector, and completely absent from the judiciary. They face gender-based discrimination in personal-status laws, which regulate marriage, divorce, child guardianship, inheritance, and gender based violence remains a significant problem.
The paper highlights the progress that has been made in improving the status of women since 2005. Some countries have demonstrated a greater degree of improvement in women's lot than others. In some, women have become more visible participants in public life, education, and business. They have gained more freedom to travel independently, as laws requiring a guardian's permission for a woman to obtain a passport have been rescinded in some countries.
The paper identifies the following findings on obstacles that prevent women in the MENA region from enjoying the full range of political, civil, economic, and legal rights:
The accompanying country-specific data which indicates any gains made by each country can be accessed at:http://freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=383&report=86