Contrary to what you might expect after reading about honor killings and the mostly male-run societies, predominantly Muslim countries support equal education for women. This is according to The Pew Global Attitudes Project (PDF):
Charles McAlpin summarizes the results:
In a positive sign for women’s rights globally, overwhelming majorities in all nine countries said they believed education is as important for girls as it is for boys: 87% in Pakistan, 93% in Indonesia, 85% in the Palestinian territories, 71% in Egypt, and 65% in Jordan said they believed girls should be educated.
Greg Mortenson, the author of Three Cups of Tea, shares a wonderful saying explaining the significance of these results:
If we educate a boy, we educate an individual. If we education a girl, we educate a community.
… when you teach little girls to read, you teach entire villages to read. (Because the girls teach their mothers.) And female literacy then leads to a healthy drop in birth rates and less poverty.
It’s a better system for everyone if people who are currently oppressed get enough education to lift themselves out of their lot in life.
But I don’t know how that leap can get made.
Still, if there’s enough support from the locals, as the Pew study seems to show, that education can’t be too far off.