“I think that almost everyone … would admit the injustice of excluding half the human race from the greater number of lucrative occupations.” John Stuart Mill
In the 19th century, women in the Arab and Ottoman world gradually began to feature more prominently in public life. Their living conditions varied depending on where they lived. In the countryside, mountains and desert areas, women working in the fields and in animal husbandry could move around freely, but their lives were harsh and austere. Women in towns might enjoy better living conditions, but most concentrated on domestic affairs. Their status as wife and mother often earned them respect but did not protect them from repudiation or polygamy. Prominent and elite women often engaged in business and trade, were able to own property and commissioned charitable institutions for education and religious practice. Most Muslim women observed some form of veiling outside the home. Non-Muslim women dressed according to the conventions and requirements of both their own and their host communities. Schooling was therefore key to their emancipation.