What does the kidnapping of almost 300 schoolgirls by Nigerian Islamists have in common with an inspiring Facebook campaign in which Iranian women display themselves without headscarves?
Nothing directly, but both go to the heart of what’s wrong with religious zealots and why ultimately they must fail: Their attempts to deny women choice ultimately cannot coexist with rising levels of education.
Both Turkey and Iran have seen a big expansion in the number of women going to university in recent years. The demand by women to decide their own clothes and fates will surely grow in tandem. How can you train women as surgeons, with the power to make life or death decisions, and at the same time demand they accept that they can’t be trusted to choose what they wear on their heads?
Marc Champion is an editorial board member at Bloomberg View.
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He is correct in one sense: educated women are far less likely to buy into repressive cults like Boko Haram.
But an authoritarian regime can still manage: in Iran, the dress code has been firmly in place since 1979 despite education being available to women in that country.
After all, Communist countries oppressed men and women in addition to providing education (of a type).