Westerners tend naturally to assume that the emancipation of women is part of liberalization, and that women will consequently fare better in liberal than in autocratic regimes. Such an assumption would be false, and often the reverse is true. Among Arab countries, the legal emancipation of women went farthest in Iraq and in the former South Yemen, both ruled by notoriously repressive regimes. It has lagged behind in Egypt, one of the more tolerant and open of Arab societies. It is in such societies that public opinion, still mainly male and still mainly conservative, has the greatest influence.