Many people in the world are fighting for gender equality, even in Muslim or Arabic-speaking countries. It turns out that researchers believe that the language you speak impacts the way you think.
Gender Equality in Germany
A court ruling in Germany says that it is unconstitutional for governments to assume that people are either male or female. The ironic part of this matter is that the German language oftentimes assigns female or male genders to nouns. Thus, based on the theory of linguistic relativity, the German people might find it difficult to adjust to using different gender constructs. The same thought might apply to Muslim, or Arabic-speaking, countries. There might never be gender equality in Muslim or Arabic-speaking countries, unless people speak English.
Muslim Countries Speak Arabic Language
Many nation-states that have a majority of Muslims have Islam as their official religion. Today, people read the Quran and the Hadith in the Arabic language. This is because they consider the Arabic language to be the pure form of the message. If people read statements in Arabic, they think that any language translation has not adulterated the meaning.
Lack of Gender Equality in Muslim or Arab Countries
The Arab region of the world ranks the lowest in the world for gender equality. Despite the prevalence of honor killings and other gender-related violence, there is a social stigma when it comes to reporting domestic violence. Family, friends, and the community reinforce the social stigma of reporting.
Unlike English, Arabic Words Are Either Masculine or Feminine
When speaking Arabic, the language involves masculine or feminine words. For example, nouns are assigned femininity or masculinity, with no neutral option. Words that do not seem to be feminine are sometimes assigned femininity, for example the sun or the eye. What is more, masculinity is the default option in the Arabic language. This might reflect the cultural importance of males.
In contrast, the English language does not assign genders to sentence structures in the same way. While back in Old English, nouns were masculine, feminine, or neuter, this fell out of use in the modern-day language. While English still uses a few forms of natural gender, such as calling a nation-state a “she,” these are remnants of Old English. Gender-neutral language such as “it” and “they” are used by gender-neutral advocates.
Gender Equality Will Come to Muslim Countries with the English Language
Just like in the above-mentioned German court ruling case, there might be a difficulty for Muslim-majority states to move toward a more neutral stance on gender equality, until the language changes. Language influences how our brains make pathways and think. It influences the way we communicate with one another. It may be that the only way for Muslim countries to establish gender equality is to start speaking an overall more gender-neutral language, such as English.