Three ways to advance Muslim women’s rights

FFI Rights

In Islam, Quran, its sacred text, is indisputable. It is the revelation from God, the source of good teachings. However, the laws that men designed, supposedly anchored on the divinity of the Quran, are inclined towards expediency, and are biased against women. Any effort to challenge these laws is projected as an attack on Islam, an irreverence to God.

But this discrimination against women is not consistent with the Quran. What should be done to address this?

“If it is not us, then who else?” Every woman has to fight for her own right. It has to start from within herself – know what she’s capable of doing especially in a nurturing environment that respects everyone’s rights.

Empowering one’s self starts with education so that no woman and man fall into the trap of misinterpretation. This calls for reforming the education system as a whole. “It should focus on altering and removing patriarchal views and gender stereotype. It should include gender sensitization both secular and religious education in order to create a responsible and competitive society,” recommends Azareena “Eana” Abdul Aziz of Sisters in Islam (SIS).

Finally, the knowledge has to be shared to create a learned community that looks out for each other’s rights. There is a need to connect and engage not just with other women but also men, to raise awareness and build support that in the end will benefit the whole society.

“Women and men would never be the same, but they are equal.” When gender diversity is recognized, the values of inclusivity, fairness, and equal opportunities are strengthened.

Eana is the program Program Manager for Outreach and Empowerment of SIS. SIS has been in the forefront of the fight to amend the Islamic Family Law in Malaysia. It has been working to promote women’s rights for 30 years. Read her story here.

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