Based on 30 years’ experience in these three regions of the world, the course will explore how gender roles are embedded in traditional norms. During the course, we will examine the process of socialization of girls and boys; we will review a multicultural understanding of gender roles, and how these roles define the expectations and aspirations of girls and boys, women and men. We will discuss obstacles and constraints facing girls and boys who aspire to larger roles and how traditional societies consider aspirations that go beyond the set norms as a challenge to honor systems, power constructs, economic inheritance, and stability.

This course will explore the different cultural interpretations of gender identity and gender expressions in the three geographic regions and examine perspectives on relations in the private and public domains between women and men.  We will attempt to examine some cross-cultural comparisons. Topics that will be discussed include the impact of these cultural interpretations of gender roles on family, education, careers, basic health systems, violence, communications, media, and political participation. These discussions will help us understand the complexities of gender relations within traditional societies that result in inequality, as well as efforts to overcome the constraints in the hope of minimizing inequalities.  The course will attempt to unpack the rationale behind the concept that equality in gender roles can lead to win/win results.

Basically, students of this course will have the opportunity to understand better the many cultural interpretations of gender within the diverse African, Middle Eastern, and South West Asian countries. The benefits of this course are wide-ranging, including becoming more aware of the different social forces that shape the future of girls and boys.