認真的女人最美麗- 阿曼女性 Omani Beauty
翻開阿曼女性的歷史,其實與其他海灣國家的並無不同。但唯一不同的是過去25年來的發展方向。 

傳統上,在西方人的眼中,阿拉伯女性的角色絕對是次於男性的。由於阿拉伯女性長久以來給人的印象是安靜且神秘的,然而她們也受到某種程度的不公平待遇。

 

在過去歷史上,穆斯林女性主要的角色是家庭的中心,永遠毫無怨言的照顧孩子及先生,甚至在農村的婦女還要肩負起照顧如山羊或綿羊等牲畜的責任。因此,婦女的教育對當時許多家庭來講,是相當浪費時間也不必要的,因為她們在幫忙母親處理家務時已經能夠學習到她們所需的全部知識了。她們不需要參與部落之事也不需要管理任何家庭以外的事情。

 

然而現在,阿曼女性大學畢業生已和男性大學畢業生的人數相等,更有兩位女性服務於阿曼諮詢委員會(Majlis A’’Shura, the Consultative Council)。

 

在當女性角色漸在海灣國家及其他伊斯蘭國家被重新討論及重下定義時,阿曼早已站在變革的最前線。阿曼女性的衛生照顧及教育計畫已在國內得到大幅的改善,且女性工作的人數已較前幾年大為提升。

  

另外,阿曼女性更在國際上展露頭角。社會與勞工部婦幼事務理事會的顧問,Mr. Huda bint Abdullah Al Ghazali,於1994年九月帶領阿曼女性參訪團參加在北京所舉辦的聯合國女性會議,並且提交阿曼的報告。事實上,從1975年在墨西哥的第一場聯合國女性會議開始至今,阿曼就一直非常積極活躍的參與此會議。

 教育

Mr. Huda bint Abdullah Al Ghazali在北京的這場聯合國女性會議中指出,在阿曼國內舉辦的一般次級學校結業考試中就有51%是女學生,這表示阿曼政府對於女性參與教育是公平且無歧視的。不只如此,在阿曼許多區域,女性是被鼓勵再做進修的。在阿曼技術學院(Oman Technical College1984-1994年畢業的1500名學生中,39%是女性 ; 在中級教師訓練學院(Intermediate Teachers’ Training College1993-1994年的畢業生中有46%是女性 ; 蘇丹卡布斯大學(Sultan Qaboos University)的女性畢業生人數也明顯的大幅增加,由1990年的43%增加至1994年的52.8%。阿曼的所有職業訓練機構就包含13所護理學院,而其學生或畢業生大部分都是女性。

 
衛生與福利

1992年世界衛生組織(World Health Organization)及聯合國兒童基金會(UNICEF, UN Children’s Fund)開始推廣『愛嬰親善醫院』(Baby Friendly Hospital-一個全球性的推廣及保護母乳哺育活動,目的是要將婦科設備進駐各個醫院,使婦女們可習得知識、受到照顧及支持,使她們能夠成功且有效率地哺育母乳。共51家的阿曼醫院在199412月時宣布為愛嬰親善醫院,一同為推廣母乳哺育努力。

 

為了維持現狀,這些醫院成立了一個義工支援隊來幫助新生兒母親。聯合國兒童基金會代表,Ms. Sawsan Rawas,負責訓練社區中自願加入此義工支援隊的婦女。她告訴阿曼報紙記者:『我們這隻義工支援隊的婦女成員來自各行各業-有教師、護理人員、家庭主婦等-且她們非常的熱心,會在平常生活中將所學的重要知識傳達給身邊的人,不論是藉由聊天、張貼海報或者是發小冊子。』每個義工支援隊的成員學成之後,會再到其他地方將所學傳授給其他10位女性。這樣的方式既快且有效率。

 

在阿曼扮演著女性福利提升最活躍的角色是社會與勞工部和另一個義工團體-阿曼女性協會(OWA, Omani Women’s Association)。社會與勞工部設立了婦幼事務理事會來參與協助發展婦女之社會、文化及衛生需求,且為了社會及教育計畫的運作。


 
阿曼女性協會(OWA)

OWA在阿曼女性教育發展中是個不可缺的重要角色。此協會是在1970年由少數會員組成,而今已急速成長至包含17個區域的協會。OWA定期會舉辦活動,而區域的活動依據各區的不同需要而有變化,但是所有的活動目的都是要將知識廣泛傳達,尤其是對那些沒有受過正式教育的婦女。OWA有一個注重長期教育及衛生的企畫,加上短期的主題課程,例如電腦技能、英語、烹調技術、營養學、家事科學、生產間隔、家庭計畫及縫紉等。

 

由於對許多阿曼女性而言,家庭仍是她們生活的重心,所以OWA訓練中心特別提供關於家事、手工藝及幼兒照顧的課程,並且為年輕女性開闢一個特別的暑假俱樂部,而所教的工藝及家事包括了傳統棕櫚葉的編織- 阿曼婦女通常會將棕櫚葉以手工編織成籃子或提包,用來贈送友人或出售他人。課程中也包括了美容學及裝飾的藝術。這些義工以『一傳十,十傳百』的方式成功地將這些技能廣為流傳。

 

婦幼事務理事會的理事長,Mr. Zakiya Al Farsi,與OWA聯絡甚密,他說:『我們就像是一個大家庭,彼此聚會、談論社會議題,也關心女性該如何做生涯規劃使自己的生活更有效率。』


 
工作

Mr. Huda Al Ghazali在了北京會議中提出了一個關於提升阿曼女性工作的詳細報告。在1994年,有18.7%的職業婦女在政府部門工作,而這與1985年時的比例-8.4%-成長了許多,而許多婦女近來更任職於國防部及皇家警察局。此外,阿曼現在更有一位女性次長,及297位局長和副局長。

 

而阿曼女性在私人企業的成長更是令人矚目- 1970年時只有2位女性在私人企業工作,但在1980年時,卻已增加到2942人!最近,有超過1500家成立的公司是以女性的名字來登記的。

 

阿曼政府大力的推廣女性參與社會、經濟商務活動不宜餘力,國王卡布斯甚至鼓勵阿曼女性解下她們臉龐和手的罩紗,且強調穆斯林女性並不需要將全身都罩住。另外,為了鼓勵阿曼人民穿著亮色系服裝及使用淺色系罩紗,國王建議並贊助1993年的阿曼時尚秀(Oman Fashion Show)。

 

國王卡布斯,在阿曼諮詢委員會第二任期演說時強調女性的價值,並鼓勵她們多為社會經濟發展做貢獻。在1993年時,國王卡布斯宣布了一個指標性的政策,那就是女性可被提名為諮詢委員會的候選人。因此,許多女性參與了1994815日所舉辦的選舉,4名女性被提名,而其中2位在這次選舉中獲勝。

 

這劃時代的政策是阿曼女性被帶入民主選舉程序的第一步,而許多專家學者也預期下一次的選舉會有更多的女性參選。國王卡布斯在事後其他場合演說中認同這項極具歷史意義的政策,並說:『由於此次選舉的成功,我們不難想像在國會選舉中也會有許多女性候選人。先知穆罕默德曾指示我們關於女性的角色-女性在早期伊斯蘭時代是非常重要的。』國王公開的陳述道。

 

阿曼女性地位在近幾年經過相關單位的大力支持下,已逐漸的提升了。阿曼政府給予了女性和男性相等的權力,甚至可以參與選舉。這在伊斯蘭世界中的劃時代創舉,是值得注意與研究的。


Omani women’s history is not so different to that of other
Gulf states. What is different is the direction of development in the past 25 years, writes Jill Stockbridge
 

Traditionally, certainly to occidental eyes, the Arabian woman’s role has been very secondary to the men in her life, be they brother, father, husband or son. She is seen as a veiled figure, separate and silent, enduring discrimination.


       
Historically, a muslim woman’s main role was centred on the family, caring for children and husband primarily, and in a more rural setting for the smaller animals, such as sheep and goats. It was not considered necessary by many families to educate daughters, as this would be wastes time – they could learn all they needed by helping their mothers. They were not involved in the tribal matters or decisions outside the household.

        In contemporary Oman almost as many women as men are graduating from University and two women now serve in the Majlis A’Shura.

  At a time when the role of women is being reconsidered and redefined throughout the Gulf States and the Islamic world, Oman is at the forefront of a quiet revolution. Health care and educational programs for women have grown throughout the Sultanate, and the number of working women has jumped over recent years.

        Oamni women are also making their presence felt internationally. Huda bint Abdullah Al Ghazali, adviser for Women an Child Affairs at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, headed the delegation of women to the United Nations Women’s Conference in Beijing in September and presented Oman’s paper. Oman has been an active participant in all the previous world women’s conferences since the first in Mexico in 1975, but this year’s conference in China has been more high profile than its predecessors.

 

Education

     Explaining the importance attached to the welfare and education of women in Oman, Huda Al Ghazali pointed out th the conference that girls comprise 51 per cent of the graduates in the General Secondary School Certificate examinations. In fact girls took the top thirteen places in the national results of the 1994-1995 academic year.

     Women are being encouraged to stay on for further education in many areas. Of the1500 students who have graduated from the Oman Technical College since its opening in 1984, 39 per cent are women, while 46 per cent of the graduates of the intermediate teachers’ training colleges in 1993-1994 were women. Sultan Qaboos University has increased its percentage of female graduates from 43 per cent in 1990 to 52.8 per cent in 1994. Vocational training facilities include 13 nursing institutes which have a large proportion of women students and graduates.

 

Health and Welfare

     In 1992 the World Health Organization and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched their Bay Friendly Hospitals Initiative – a worldwide campaign to promote and protect breast-feeding. Its goal was to transform hospitals and maternity facilities into places where women would find knowledge, care and support to enable them to breast-feed effectively. All 51 of Oman’s hospitals were declared Baby Friendly by December 1994, a full year before the deadline.

     To maintain this states the hospitals created support group of volunteers. The UNICEF representative in Oman, Saesan Rawas, trained community women volunteered to become part of the support groups for mothers. “We have women from all walks of life in the support groups – teachers, nurses, housewives – and they are very enthusiastic. They are also very communicative passing on the message through talks, posters and booklets.” She told the Oman Daily Observer. Each trained support group member then goes out and trains 10 other women, spreading the message rapidly and effectively throughout even isolated communities.

     The two organizations which play the most active role in improving women’s welfare are the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour and the Volunteer group, the Omani Women’s Association (OWA). The Ministry has set up the Directorate General of Women’s and Children’s Affairs to identify social, cultural and health needs and educational programs.

 
The Oman Women’s Association

     The OWA has been an essential instrument in the education and development of women in the Sultanate. The Association, which began with a handful of members in two rooms in 1970, has grown to encompass 17 regional associations. The actives of the regional teams according to the different needs of each area, but all aim to teach women in rural areas, especially those who have not benefited from any formal education, to be self-sufficient in all respects. There is an emphasis on long-term educational and health programs, plus short-term course on subjects such as computer skills, reading and writing Arabic, English, cookery and nutrition, domestic science, birth spacing and sewing.

     For many Omani women the family is still the center of their lives so the OWA training centers offer advice on home-making, handicraft and child care, and provide a special summer club for girls and young ladies during the school summer break. The crafts and home skills the teach include making the traditional kumabs, and bags and basket from palm leaves for the women to sell, or give to friends. Advice is offered in beauty tips and decorative arts. The volunteers use a pyramidal system of training, whereby a small group of women are trained together, then these women go out into the community to train others.

     Zakiya Al Farsi, director general if Women and Child Affairs, works very closely with the OWA: “ We are like a big family meeting and talking about social affairs and how women can plan to be more efficient at living.”

 

Employment

     Huga Al Ghazaila gave the Beijing conference details of the improving employment figures for women in the Sultanate. In 1994 women accounted for 18.7 per cent of jobs in the government sector as compared to only 8.4 per cent in 1985. Many women are currently employed in the Ministry of Defence and the Royal Oman Police. In addition there is now one women under-secretary, plus 297 director generals and deputy director generals.

     In private sector growth has been even more dramatic. There were only two women employed in the private sector in 1970. This had risen to 2942 by 1980. Currently there are over 1500 commercial establishments that are registered in the name of women.

     The push for the emancipation and involvement of women in Omani life, society and business, has come from the top. In earlier ties Sultan Qaboos encouraged the women of Oman to show their faces and hands, and emphasized that it was not the Majlis A’Shura. Several women took part in the electoral nomination process which ended in 15 August 1994, and four women were nominated, two of whom were eventually was elected to the house of representatives.

     While women’s participation was limited to the six wilayats in the capital area, this development is a first step towards the inclusion of the female population in the electoral process. A study has been initiated to achieve a more balanced representative based on the results of the population census, and it is expected that more women will be nominated and elected in the next election.

In his speech ratifying the historic election, the Sultan said that “ the participation of women in the Parliament should cause no surprise. The Prophet, praise and peace be upon him, has instructed us as to the role of women. This role was very significant in the early days of Islam.” His Majesty has stated publicly that he knows of no obstacle to women’s progress from the political or government point of view, nor from the religious points of view.

     In an interview with the UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph, Sultan Qaboos

elaborated on this speech, saying that he “ used that speech to set the straight. There is no way women are inferior, they are equal to men in every respect. And all my countrymen are getting hold of this now. When I go up –country the fathers say to me, ‘my son has work, but what about my daughter?’ And the men say, ’ We have real competition from these women, they keep getting all the high marks!’

 

 
 
 
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