Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 09/2009

Education, Human Development, and Arab Women: Progress, Dilemmas, and American Discourse

Fida Adely

September 2008

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies


In this paper, I will first speak briefly about the human development perspective and the critical links that have been drawn between education-the acquisition of knowledge-and development as freedom or the expansion of choices. I move then to consider the increase in formal education in the Arab world and the implications for human development, particularly for women, in that context. I then relate this account of educational development in the region to some of the current discourses and debates about Arab women in the United States, and address the implications of the continued politicization and misrepresentation of women's status for development efforts from both within and without the region.