When a Taliban gunman shot Malala Yousafzai, then a 15-year-old student activist in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, it brought long-needed attention to the struggle for girls’ education in Muslim societies. Yousafzai, known internationally for standing up for the rights of Muslim girls to attend school, was deliberately targeted in a country where, according to ABC News, “Sixty-two percent of girls and five percent of boys are not in school,” and where, in some districts, Taliban leaders have forbidden girls to attend school at all.
Now a new Pew study on education among Muslim girls examines the issue globally in an effort to understand why Muslim women are so often deprived of schooling. Yet oddly, the findings of the study, presented in Population And Development Review, do not match up to the brief overview Pew issued on its web site. Indeed, while the Pew text purports to be a summary of the Population and Development Review research and report, it frequently misrepresents the real findings.
Those misrepresentations begin at the top of the summary, written by the study’s co-author Conrad Hackett, who is Pew’s associate director of research and senior demographer, and Dalia Fahmy, a Pew writer who focuses on religious issues. Its headline: “Education of Muslim Women Is Limited by Economic Conditions, Not Religion.”