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The paper presents the worldview of Asian women whom the world perceive to lack any yearning for change in their lives or in their society in general. The question is how the world views the Asian elderly women: it is due to unawareness or being uneducated. This statement is not in support of women limited responsibilities, but is due to refusal to change by Asian women from their customary gender responsibilities. Most of these women ignore the significances of having proper education and the prospective presented to them to advance their lives and the world's perception. During the research, most men are regretful for their ignorance to attain education like reading and writing.
Possibly the women lack of interest in education is because it was not part of them from the start (Abbas, 2003). They view themselves as beings with a role to compliment their husbands and have children. If education had been introduced earlier in their lives, when they were young may be there could be a difference after all. Most of elderly Asian women are Muslims and they embrace the culture of wearing head scarves referred to as hijab (Damji &Lee, 2005). These women believe that any woman who is not covering her head is immoral. There have been a heated debate over the wearing of hijab in different countries specifically France (Abbas, 2003).
Statement of the problem
Most Asian women who are elderly are perceived to be uneducated whose work is to act like servants to their husbands. These women did not have formal education and because of this, the world recognizes them as illiterates. Most of these women while growing up followed the culture where men were the superiors. They would marry at young ages of around thirteen and above.
In Asian, a woman is a symbol of household. She is not allowed to even be a leader.
Objectives of the study
The objectives of this research are to find out how the Asian women are recognized by the world generally and how they take these perceptions.
Methodology for solving the problem
The Asian women voices need to be paid attention to and understood through their personal tales. In an effort to listen to their experiences and understand their gender insights, I interviewed older Asian women from different backgrounds. Though my focus was on gender insights, I knew there were other factors that influenced them in their lives like race, traditions, and customs. I included all these factors in my research to help me understand the women identity.
I employed the open-ended questions in my interviews with the Asian women. This allowed my participants to provide flowing ideas and construct their narratives. My interviews commenced with a questionnaire, which inquired about the place of birth, date of birth, and the differences they find about the current world, the kind of shelter they lived in, what they missed about their early lives and their advice to young girls. T o give the women moment to reflect, I presented them with interview queries before a one-on one interview. I used about five to six hours on each woman and taped the conversation.
All the women preferred the interview to employ their native language because they could not understand any other language. Once the information was gathered, copies were made. After the transcription, I read the transcripts from the interviews and made highlights on the information allied to my research. The accumulated data was then split to different categories for analysis. In order to tell the participants perceptive, I decided to use their quotes. I realized that the essential basis of raw information in qualitative queries is by quoting the women direct quotations. This is by divulging the women experiences and their insights, emotional depth, organization of words, and their thought about the current happenings. For each woman's narrative, I used direct citations for each theme. On each grouping, I carried out an organized analysis. It involved developing a detailed arrangement of classes by organizing qualitative information and safeguarding the necessary intricacy and refinement of the matter under research.
The interview conducted involved six women who were at their sixties, seventies, and eighties. The women did not have any formal education. All the knowledge the women had was about the beliefs and culture. Three of them believed that the only knowledge one is supposed to have is about your culture and religion and about your roles in the community. They believed that modern women are immoral because they do not cover their heads and they work instead of staying at home, look after their husbands and children, and take care of their homes. Some of the women I interviewed were proud of their culture and beliefs while others felt that they needed to revolutionize to move with the current world.
Table 1: Demographic and socio-economic attributes of the participants
No. of children
Three of the interviewed women differed about the perception of the other women about being educated. They argued that the reasons for men seeing themselves as being superior are the ignorance of the Asian women to embrace the culture of education while still practice their culture and religion. Arabel did not care about the world's perception about them for as long as she practices her traditions she is satisfied. She quoted "As long as I practice my culture the worlds perception about me is useless" For Jasmine, Noor, and Elizabeth, they showed more concerned about how the world perceived them. In the Asian continent, most of the older women continue to practice female genital mutilation as a way of protecting their customs, (Abbas, 2003). Noor seemed to curse the act since she experienced the consequences of FGM while giving birth to her children but Arabel did not seem to care as long as the act upholds their culture.
My thoughts about the Asian women are that they need to embrace the education system. They should not view educated women immoral or irresponsible just because they can go to work like their fellow men. I am not trying to fault their beliefs, but the issue on FGM need addressing because many women lose their lives due to complications brought about by the act. The Asian men too have an obligation to motivate their women on education (Arnot, 2003). According to me, the wearing of the hijab should be optional.
In summary, the world perception about Asian elderly women is that they are uneducated and their roles is only staying at home and taking care of their family. Most of these women ignore the significances of having proper education and the prospective presented to them to advance their lives and the world's perception. If education had been introduced earlier in their lives, when they were young may be there could be a difference after all. Most of elderly Asian women are Muslims and they embrace the culture of wearing head scarves referred to as hijab. In an effort to listen to their experiences and understand their gender insights, I interviewed older Asian women from different backgrounds. Though my focus was on gender insights, I knew there were other factors that influenced them in their lives like race, traditions, and customs. I included all these factors in my research to help me understand the women identities. In the Asian continent, most of the older women continue to practice female genital mutilation as a way of protecting their customs. The Asian men too have an obligation to motivate their women on education
Appendix (A) interview with Jasmine's Grandmother
Interview the oldest woman in your family: (Jasmine Grandmother)
The interview was held in Arabic language and has been translated to English
1. Where are you from? The city or the desert?
I am from Saudi Arabia, Al-Qatif, and Qatif city.
2. What year were you born?
I was born at 1949
3. What was your day like when you were my age?
At 21 I was already married and had 2 daughters and living at my husband's family house. So my day was full of activities, I had to get up early morning after dawn prayers and go to a teacher's house where I got to teach some children around the block how to read the Holy Qur'an. After that, after nearly 3 hours, I go back home and help my sister's in law and mother in law to prepare the lunch for the family. After lunch we usually had our neighbors and family come visit us and gather to talk and let the children play around us where we used to talk for hours and hours and never felt bored. Before sunset, everyone goes back to his or her home, prepare, and have dinner with his or her families. I usually did some sowing whenever I had time, I really liked to sow clothes for my friends and children, me and my sister's in law enjoyed sewing together with our friends where we got to meet and chat and show each other our designs and help each other.
4. What kind of house did you live in?
At those days big families lived together in one big house, when I was still at my parents house I used to live in a big house with my brothers and their wives and my sisters. And when I got married I lived in a house that was nearly as big as my parents' house. The houses was made out of blocks and all the walls were white, there was a wide open space with no roof at the centre of the house where most of the children played and most of the elder women gathered and chat together and the rooms surrounded the open space that was as living room these days.
5. What do you miss from your life back in the old days?
What I miss the most from the old days is how families were so close together and all the people and neighbors knew each other and loved each other. Now families are separated all around the world either for work or for education. We had no phones or computers back in the old days so we had to go by ourselves and visit our friends and families and we enjoyed it. I also miss the simplicity we had those days, we had no entertainment as much as kids have now but we had fun more than any kid is having these days.
6. What do you want me to tell my great-granddaughter about you?
Tell your great-granddaughter that although I married young but I had, and still have, a great life full of experiences and joy with a lot less complications that people now face.
7. What message do you have for my great granddaughter?
The message I have to give you and your great granddaughter is to live your life as simple as you can. Do not let anyone or anything stop in your way to your dreams and that you should always remember that family is the most important part of life.
Appendix (B) Interview with Sahra's Grandmother
Interview the oldest woman in your family: (Sahra)
The interview was held in Arabic language and has been translated to English
1. Where was she from? What city? The desert?
The oldest woman in my family is my grandmother she born in Saudi Arabia in Jubail city that was one of the beautiful cities in Saudi Arabia but now a day's it's become an industry city, she always complain about the weather that there is no fresh and breathable air, because of that she had asthma now. Jubail is just a few mails a way from Dammam it takes an hour driving.
2. What year was she born?
She was born in 1930 she is 81 years old. When I asked her about her old days she told me back then her days was so simple and routine.
3. What was her life like when she was your age? In addition, what was the house like?
She did not go to school. She was raised up with 4 sisters and 5 brothers. she woke up at 5 am to help her mother with home work cleaning, cooking and prepare the breakfast for her father and brothers and do other home works that need to be done before her father and brothers come back to the house such as cleaning the rooms, bathrooms and washing the dishes.
She got married when she was 16 years old and her husband was 22 years old. Now she have 5 daughter and 4 sons she give birth to her first daughter at age 17. When I asked her about what kind of house she live in she smiled and told me not anywhere near this, her house was so simple and small 3 bed rooms, 3 bath rooms and 1 living room, there is no much furniture and all the walls in the whole house in one color.
She told me back then they didn't have curtain so they cover the windows with a peppers and when I asked her how many windows she said 4 each room had a window and 1 for the living room. She continued the most beautiful thing that her house was in front of the sea she can see the sea from her house and enjoy the view, sunrise and sunset.
4. What did she miss the most from the old days?
What she misses from her old days is the safe they had back then she told me back then when her kids play out said the home at night she did not worry that much like these days. In addition, she told me she misses her old neighbors they were like one family. She said that they shared the same wall of her house with her neighbors and what I was shocked when I hear it is they had a hole in the wall and there was a door between her house and her neighbors, so when the men go to work they visit and helped each other.
She said they most thing she misses the early coffee she use to have with her neighbors and her sisters they all gather in the same room chatting and working. She said these days every one busy and do not have time just to set and grab a cup of coffee and talks about the old days.
5. What message does she have for your grand daughter?
She told me the important message she want me to tell my granddaughter is to pray on time, have a great manner, attitude, and get a high education. Because nothing and no one will help me if I did not help and educate myself. I must have a motivation and faith so I can continue my life. In addition, she munched that when I want to get married I should choose someone who is honest, generous, and positive thinker. Therefore, he can support and encourage me with my life.