Islamic Lifestyle

More males than females perform the annual haj

More males than females perform the annual haj

*Updated with sex ratios for Indonesia and India, the countries with the two biggest Muslim populations

Male haj pilgrims have consistently outnumbered females from 2011 to 2016, according to data from Saudi Arabia's General Authority for Statistics.

On average, there were 1.22 males for every 1 female haj pilgrim from 2011 to 2016.

The largest gap was in 2012 when there were 1.25 males for every 1 female pilgrim.

The smallest gap was in 2015 when there were 1.19 males to every 1 female. 

In absolute numbers, the gaps are significant: in 2012 there were 221,231 more male pilgrims than females, falling to 132,568 in 2015. 

These sex ratios diverge more than those in the two countries with the biggest Muslim populations, Indonesia and India, which together have a haj quota of around 400,000.

The sex ratio in Indonesia, where Muslims account for around 90 percent of the population, is 1.01 males to 1 female. Among India's Muslims, there were 951 women to 1,000 men, or 1.05 males to 1 female, according to the 2011 census. 


Saudi males accounted for a bigger proportion of male pilgrims than Saudi females among total female pilgrims. 

On average across the six years, Saudi males made up 11 percent of all male pilgrims versus 8.7 percent of Saudi females among all female pilgrims. 


According to the Saudi authorities, micro-level data from the annual haj help them estimate the necessary labour force to serve pilgrims, set the necessary annual traffic plans, and evaluate the activities conducted by relevant agencies. 

Gender-specific trend numbers help authorities plan for any required expansions affecting gender-segregated resources, such as toilets, ablution facilities, and prayer areas.

Outside the need for the Saudi authorities to plan for the annual pilgrimage, the gender disparity also begs the question: Why are so many fewer Muslim females performing the obligatory haj? This would have to be addressed at the country level.


Total pilgrim numbers dropped 26 percent in 2013 after the Saudi government slashed quotas for foreign pilgrims by 20 percent, and by 50 percent for Saudi pilgrims to accommodate the expansion of facilities at Masjid Al Haram in Mecca.

The quotas have been reinstated for this year's annual haj.

© 2017 All Rights Reserved




Author Profile Image
Emmy Abdul Alim