IWD 2019: Still fighting

On this year’s International Women’s Day, we at sister-hood can look back upon ground-breaking achievements by women of Muslim heritage since last year’s celebration. In politics, for instance, we have seen the election of Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first Muslim women to serve in Congress. Women of Muslim heritage are succeeding in every sphere: the arts, film, theatre, sports, and science.

Many women of Muslim heritage continue to push back at injustices: in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and across the Muslim world, brave female activists have been challenging male violence and state repression.

On IWD, we celebrate women’s accomplishments and prepare for another year of working to dismantle the prejudices and injustices against women.

We have so much still to fight for:

  • Muslim women are less educated than Muslim men, as well as women of most other religious groups;
  • Most of the lowest-ranked countries for gender equality have a Muslim majority;
  • In the Arab world, twice as many women are unemployed than men;
  • At the current rate of change, women’s participation in the labour market in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa Region) will not reach the current global average for 150 years;
  • In nearly all countries surveyed by Pew, a majority of Muslims say that a wife should always obey her husband;
  • FGM is still practiced widely in countries like Egypt, Somalia, Mauritania and Sudan;
  • At least 37% of Arab women have experienced some form of violence in their lifetime;
  • Somalia has the highest infant and maternal mortality rate in the world;
  • In the UK, Muslim women are the most economically disadvantaged group;
  • Muslim women face policing of what they choose to wear;
  • Most reservations made to CEDAW, denying women equal rights in personal status law, have been entered by states that cite shari’a as the reason.

IWD 2019 is an opportunity to renew work towards important goals: ensuring that women and girls have access to education and employment, ending discrimination against women and girls, stopping violence against women in the public and private spheres – including trafficking and sexual exploitation and eliminating harmful traditional practices such as ‘honour’ crimes, FGM and early and forced marriage.

As Malala Yousafzai says, ‘We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.’