This House believes the family is a major obstacle to reform in the Arab world

Tuesday May 30 2006
MOTION PASSED by 51% to 49%

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This House believes the family is a major obstacle to reform in the Arab world

The outcome of the Doha Debates on May 30th was the closest yet with 51 percent of the audience supporting the motion: ‘This House believes the family is a major obstacle to reform in the Arab world.’

The family’s impact on economic, social, and political reforms in the Arab world was discussed along with issues including male dominance, women’s rights, education, parenting and arranged marriages.

Hayfa Matar from the Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that there was "no room for growth" within the family, highlighting that women in Arab families find their ambitions limited, as "families clearly define what is available for you to pursue and what isn't." Ms. Hayfa also referred to the existence of a "social stigma" within Arab families clearly defining the roles of women within society and pointed out that, "presently family structure needs a lot of help".

Speaking against the motion, Kuwaiti psychologist Dr. Ibrahim Al Khulaifi blamed other elements for the family's failure. He said "families were used and abused by our socio-economic system". 

Kuwaiti sociologist Dr. Mohammed Al-Rumaihi blamed the family for the lack of social, political and economical progress in the Arab world, "there are norms and values in our society hindering our development". He added, "You couldn't have a democratic society without having a democratic family".

Lecturer on gender issues and politics at BirZeit University in the West Bank, Dr. Islah Jad was hopeful, "we have to see our family as a growing and developing entity". Although acknowledging that support was needed, she pointed out that many problems within the Arab family could be found anywhere, "patriarchy is not an Arab or Muslim phenomenon it is everywhere in the world." 

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