The issue of Gender Segregation at Qatar University
Editor's Note: This is an opinion piece by our Qatari writer Shabeb Al Rumaihi, who graduated from Qatar University last year. Do you agree/disagree with his observations? Please join in on the converstion via the comments section as well as Twitter/Facebook.
One of the latest trending twitter Hashtags was supporting a female student from the college of Islamic studies at Qatar University. The twitter trend was to support her request in segregating the board of students representatives by claiming that part of the university policy is to segregate male and female students.
A lot of people had different opinions on why the board should and should not be segregated. Those who demanded segregation justified it on the grounds of university policy, religious and cultural values. Others who supported the existence of a co-ed board believed that its a good opportunity in equal participation and aspirations to end unequal gaps between male and female students.
Ever since I started studying in Qatar University, research grants, annual events, conferences and movie screenings were not segregated. During the time of Prof. Sheikha Al Misnad's presidency of Qatar University, she always stressed that academia is only segregated in classrooms on the undergraduate academic level. However, student conferences, events and general meetings for the university were usually in halls shared between male and female students. You can not bring a head of state or an international actor to give two separate lectures.
I disagree with the argument that justifies segregation on religious grounds because in history we see men and women fighting side by side from the time of the prophet to the colonial resistance of the Portuguese Empire in the region. Umm Salamah, the wife of Prophet Mohammed PBUH had several discussions on women issues in front of his companions and it was intentional to educate them.
Sukaina the daughter of Al Hussain and granddaughter of the prophet PBUH had a majless for poets. This majless was inclusive of both men and women to have open discussions. These historical events prove to me that segregation is not endorsed through Islam.
As for cultural values, I do not see desegregation as a factor that threatens our cultural values. I see it as an opportunity to innovate a new cultural platform that believes in developing a society that needs men and women working together to develop a better future for Qatar. There are many women in Qatar who are great leaders in different desegregated environments and they have remarkable leadership skills. So maybe this board could be an opportunity to innovate an environment that builds a new society for the university.
An observation of change for female leadership.
While I was still an undergrad, Qatar University had 3 female professors leading 3 colleges as university deans. Today, we notice a shift that all 3 deans ( Dr. Hissa Sadeq dean of the college of Education, Dr. Eiman Mustafawi dean of the college of Arts and Science & Dr. Aisha Al-Mannai dean of Islamic studies college) have been replaced by male faculty. A new college for health sciences is currently led by Dr. Asma Al-Thani making her the only female dean within the university.
To conclude, I would like to point out that Qatar deserves the best from its nation, men and women.
That is why i asked you to consult a scholar in a different article you have posted. You are mixing your opinion and little islamic history knowledge to conclude broader justifications. I Studied in QU and i loved it the way it is, There are many universities locally and broadly in which there is no segregation so who is caring on this subject has a choice. People who cares about this matter has only ONE university in Qatar that supports segregation. Pls don't just make people life's so difficult.
Liked the article. The more integration, the better it is. Discussions and debates is hallmark of a mature society.
I recall talking to a Qatari colleague and he strongly advocated segregation. However, another was of the opposite view.
Qatar is going through change at a rapid rate - both sides will have opinions and valid reasons for their viewpoints.
As more and more educated Qataris come to the fore, they will influence the future -where personaly I see more and more integration between the sexes - It is inevitable