chapter  9
32 Pages

THE ROLES OF RURAL WOMEN: FEMALE SECLUSION, ECONOMIC PRODUCTION, AND REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE

In a broad sweep of land extending across North Africa through the Middle East into South Central Asia, one finds a number of countries that share certain economic and cultural characteristics relevant to the issue of female roles and reproductive behavior. In most of these Moslem and Hindu countries-from Morocco to India-rural women, on the average, marry while still in their teens, some into polygamous house­ holds; bear children at rates among the highest in the world; are unable to read or write; and, with few exceptions, are not engaged in what is officially defined as “gainful economic activity” (see table 9-1).