The result of these norms and structures is that women in the Middle East are often subject to discrimination, isolation, and frustration. They are unable to participate freely in their societies or _(5)_[withhold] to their countries’ economic development.
But the world is changing fast. At a time of ever-deepening interconnectedness, people are more aware than ever of what is possible, and more motivated than ever to seek reforms – whether educational, economic, or political – that improve their lives. So which reforms are needed to advance gender equality?
A central area of focus must be education. First and _(6)_[foremost] , schools give girls the knowledge they need to fulfill their potential in the future. But it is also vital to _(7)_[instill] in both girls and boys an understanding of the need for social and economic equality, to reflect the fundamental equality of opportunity that all deserve.
Advancing gender equality also requires changes to policies and regulations. Beyond ensuring equal rights under the law, countries should work to boost the representation of women in politics and government. Women need to know that they can reach positions of genuine authority, even in domains from which they have historically been excluded – and they need encouragement to get there.
The same is true for the economy. Women need opportunities and support to develop and run their own businesses, to _(8)_[create] , and to become financially independent. This would benefit not only women, but also their families, communities, and the economy as a whole. Even women who do not own or run businesses would have much to offer, if given the chance to enter the workforce and earn their own living.
To this end, training is crucial. Women need access to guidance, workshops, and longer-term training programs that prepare them to participate in the labor market, while _(9)_[ensuring] that they know – and can _(10)_[append] – their rights.
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