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Women in Islam
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Empowered women work to improve the lives of other women and their communities around the world

Jenny Datoo surveys farmers’ associations in Pakistan’s rural Soan Valley to determine the effectiveness of community participation in irrigation projects. Photo: Laya Taheri

A number of Ismaili women are courageously taking the initiative to pave the way for the empowerment of the underprivileged, of which women and girls constitute a substantial portion.

After graduating from university, Jenny Datoo rose to the rank of vice-president at a leading bank. While managing a multi-million dollar portfolio for Fortune 100 clients might be considered by some to be a “dream job”, Datoo found it less than fulfilling. She left the banking world — and the United States — to pursue a master’s degree in Water Science, Policy and Management at Oxford University.

Today, Datoo works in the water management programme at the World Bank, identifying policy enhancements with governments and development institutions in Africa and Asia, and creating sustainable solutions to alleviate water challenges for millions of the world’s poorest communities.

“Gender has never been a limitation in my mind,” says Datoo. “Women can have an incredibly strong influence on decision-making, whether in the household, workplace or voluntary roles.”

Women like Datoo serve as change agents by elevating the status and quality of life of those in need. By applying their own potential to a desire to make a difference, they are providing innovative opportunities that enable others to do the same.
Sheherazade Hirji received the Hope Award from the North York Women’s Shelter. The award recognises individuals who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment and record of contribution to improving the lives of women and girls. Photo: Courtesy of the North York Women’s Shelter
Sheherazade Hirji received the Hope Award from the North York Women’s Shelter. The award recognises individuals who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment and record of contribution to improving the lives of women and girls. Photo: Courtesy of the North York Women’s Shelter

Like Datoo, Sheherazade Hirji made a deliberate career change. A qualified lawyer, she chose a career path in the philanthropic sector that closely mirrored her own values. Hirji is Vice President of Client Services at Tides Canada Foundation, an organisation that supports the philanthropic passions of individuals, foundations, corporations and activists by connecting them to environmental and social justice issues that matter to them.

Hirji recognises that the sacrifices made by women in previous generations have allowed her a chance to succeed — but not all women have that opportunity. She quotes the activist and politician Rosemary Brown who said: “Until all of us have made it, none of us have made it.”

The fact that 1 out of 7 women in Canada live in poverty, 6 out of 10 of the world’s poorest people are still women, and that two-thirds of all children who find themselves outside the school gates in the developing world are girls, provides strong motivation for her work.

In a previous role as an executive director at Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, Hirji focused on the issue of violence against women and supported shelters serving women and children fleeing violence across Canada. In 2008, she received the Hope Award from the North York Women’s Shelter in recognition of her outstanding commitment and record of contribution to improving the lives of women and girls. As a board member of the Canadian Women’s Foundation and a member of the National Committee of Aga Khan Foundation Canada, Hirji is a powerful voice for women and girls, as well as issues of gender in development.
Shaherose Charania (left) works with two entrepreneurs on an idea at Women 2.0 Labs, a pre-incubator for future technology founders. Photo: Angie Chang
Shaherose Charania (left) works with two entrepreneurs on an idea at Women 2.0 Labs, a pre-incubator for future technology founders. Photo: Angie Chang

When asked what constitutes a woman of substance, Hirji states that it is “someone who is grounded in her values and has a sense of perspective as to what really matters in life.”

Shaherose Charania fits that definition well. Although she grew up in Canada, frequent family trips to Pakistan opened her eyes to economic inequality around the world. She is the co-founder and CEO of Women 2.0, an organisation devoted to women’s empowerment.

“I realised how important technology was in connecting people and changing the status quo of a country, a city and an individual’s mind,” says Charania, who is based in San Francisco.

While working in Silicon Valley, Charania noted an obvious gender imbalance among the technology start-up community. She discovered that although more than half of all small businesses are run by women, only 5 per cent of women are founders of high tech enterprises. This meant that women were being left behind in innovation, and missing out on the opportunity to make a difference in the world of technology. Charania started Women 2.0 to help fix this disparity.
Dr Sunera Thobani is an Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of British Colombia. Photo: Fatima Jaffer
Dr Sunera Thobani is an Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of British Colombia. Photo: Fatima Jaffer

“Our goal is to increase the size of the entrepreneurship funnel by introducing more female founders into the early stage pipeline,” she says. A visionary at heart, Charania is reaching tens of thousands of women and has personally seen 300 projects get off the ground.

Datoo, Hirji and Charania are trail-blazing women, but Dr Sunera Thobani wonders how many recognise the significance of what they and other women like them have accomplished. The Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of British Colombia, laments that today’s women generally know very little of their gender’s history.

“One of my major goals is to reach young women and to teach them about women's activism, historically,” says Dr Thobani. For her, women’s empowerment is about “creating real material options for women to end poverty and violence in their lives.” As a Muslim woman and scholar, Dr. Thobani is at the forefront of educating people about Islam and its values. She challenges women to achieve more and sets the record straight on the stereotypes surrounding Muslim women.

“It is very important for young women to think critically, to feel the power that women have and to join forces with those who want a world based on justice.”
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 5:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Watch Almas Jiwani, President of UN Women Canada, on CBC’s Mansbridge One on One
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Almas Jiwani, President of UN Women Canada, Will Deliver Keynote Address at the 2011 Health and Human Rights Conference (HHR)
National Committee of UN Women - Canada

ORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 18, 2011) - Almas Jiwani, President of the National Committee for the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women – Canada) will deliver keynote address at the 2011 Health and Human Rights Conference tomorrow at the University of Toronto – St George Campus.

The Health and Human Rights Conference is one of the largest events held by the University of Toronto's International Health (UTHIP) Program with an attendance of 700 individuals last year. The conference targets an audience of university students and faculty members from diverse disciplines, as well as leaders in global health. This year's conference will attract expert advice on women's health issues from the realms of political science, international development, environment, health, economics and engineering. The conference will strive to equip the audience with the resources and knowledge to initiate positive change around the world.

Co-Chair of the 2011 Health and Human Rights Conference, Kushbu Loyal states: "We are excited and honored that Ms. Jiwani accepted our invitation to deliver keynote address at the Health and Human Rights Conference. Her great work epitomizes the significance of gender equality and women's health. Victoria Wong, Co-Chair, further added: "Ms. Jiwani has stated several times that gender equality is the most prevalent issue for women all around the world, even in Canada. We couldn't think of anyone better to continue educating and raising awareness about these issues at this year's conference, which focuses on the importance of maternal and women's health."

According to UN Women, the issue of maternal health is one of the major pre-requisites in accomplishing the UN's Millennium Development Goals. The target to reduce the maternal mortality ratio is the area of least progress of all the Millennium Development Goals.

Reflecting on the issue of maternal health, Ms. Jiwani states: "Equitable health care for women is one of the major pre-requisites for accomplishing the UN's Millennium Development Goals. Broadening participation at conferences, such as the Health and Human Rights Conference, where people will be engaged in discussing the core issues such as violence against women, women's reproductive rights and maternal health, will also have a significant impact on ensuring availability of proper healthcare to elevate the status of women in underprivileged situations such as war, disaster or economic crises."

Ms. Jiwani will deliver the opening remarks at the conference to evaluate the maternal health challenges facing women around the world accompanied. She will also take this opportunity to educate the audience about the United Nations' unique approach to underlying local and international perspectives pertaining to women's health.

About UN Women Canada

The National Committee for UN Women Canada raises UN Women's profile and promotes its work in Canada; raises funds for UN Women projects; creates awareness within the Canadian governments for increased funding for UN Women projects; and encourages non-governmental organizations to promote and support UN Women initiatives.

About University of Toronto International Health Program

The University of Toronto International Health Program (UTIHP) is a student-run non-profit organization who accepts and promotes the World Health Organization's definition of health as: "The ability to identify and to realize aspirations, to satisfy needs, and to change or cope with the environment. Health is therefore a resource for life, not the object of living. Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources as well as physical capacities." (WHO, 1986)
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SRK's discovery Zoa Morani turns 22

Shah Rukh Khan discovery Zoa Morani turns 22 today. She debuts in Roshan Abbas' maiden directorial venture Always Kabhi Kabhi later this year.

Zoa won't have a big bash this year. She says, "I just want to chill with my family and go out to dinner with them."

Morani, an Ismaili (Aga Khani) by birth, adds, "I will definitely pray at the Jamatkhana (community centre)."

What makes this b'day extra special is that her boyfriend Shamik Raja will be in town. "He surprised me by flying down from London. He had told me he wasn't going to be able to make it," she gushes.

She met her guy, an Indo-Canadian, two years ago on her dad's birthday. A source informs us that Shamik manages a hedge fund and has a house next to Shah Rukh's in Dubai.

On screen, the newbie would love to romance Hrithik Roshan. "He is so hot," she raves.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

April 22, 2011 17:05 ET
Almas Jiwani, President of the National Committee for UN Women-Canada Will Address the Pakistani Community at the 2011 Pakistan Day Celebrations Hosted by MQM-Canada

BRAMPTON, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 22, 2011) - Ms. Almas Jiwani, President of the National Committee for UN Women - Canada will address an audience of over 400 individuals at the 2011 Pakistan Day festivities organized under the auspices of the MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement) and its annual community event.

This high profile event will feature remarks and keynote addresses by local and foreign dignitaries followed by an exclusive performance by the renowned Pakistani singer Naeem Abbas Rufi. The theme of the event is surrounding the legacy of the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, MQM leader Altaf Hussain and his vision of equality and justice for the people of Pakistan and the constitution of Pakistan that was realized on March 23rd 1956.

Commenting on the Pakistan Day celebration, Ms Almas Jiwani states:

"Investment in women and girls is the key to Pakistan's future growth and productivity. Today we celebrate the Pakistan Resolution Day as a pinnacle moment in the creation of the country. We reflect, we remember, and we look ahead. Today, let us make a personal commitment to ensuring that gender equality becomes a lived reality in Pakistan and worldwide. Let us celebrate Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah's vision for creating an independent nation. Like the founders of the country, we too must be visionaries and we must work together to put Pakistan on the trajectory to become a strong, united, and peaceful country. There is only one way to accomplish this goal, and it rests in the investment in the country's greatest untapped resource – women. "

Reflecting on the Pakistan Day celebrations, MQM Canada Central Organizer Mr. Iqbal Qamar states:

"MQM Canada and its leadership under Altaf Hussain, explicitly believes that empowerment of society occurs through empowerment of the underprivileged middle and lower classes. Thus, in order to achieve the solution to most of Pakistan's problems, our approach emphasizes Realism and Practicalism. Women's empowerment is an important aspect of MQM's larger agenda. We fully believe that through cooperation with civil society partners like UN Women – Canada, we will revitalize the global and local dialogue on gender equality and eradication of societal injustices.

On this Pakistan Day, we hope to bring new energy, draw on multiple talents, and bring together men and women from around the world for this endeavor to make gender equality and societal empowerment a "lived reality" and accelerate Pakistan's economic, political and social progress."

The 2011 Pakistan Day event will be organized at Milan Banquet Hall and all the funds raised from tickets will be donated to alleviate the suffering and assist the flood victims of Pakistan.

About UN Women-Canada

The National Committee for UN Women - Canada works to address the challenges of promoting gender equality globally. UN Women is a dynamic and strong champion for women and girls, providing them with a powerful voice at the global, regional, and local levels. The main roles of UN Women – Canada is to raise UN Women's profile and promotes its work in Canada; raise funds for UN Women projects; creates awareness within the Canadian government for increased contribution for UN Women projects; and encouragement of non-governmental organizations, civil society, political and corporate leaders to promote and support UN Women initiatives.

For an interview with Ms. Almas Jiwani or media information on the National Committee for UN Women Canada, please contact:

Mr. Ovais Shah
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In A Land Of Few Rights, Saudi Women Fight To Vote

by Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson

May 4, 2011

It was pretty sobering to hear a group of Saudi women I met recently tell me they feel they have the least freedom or fewest rights of any women in the world.

They have no right to vote in the rare, countrywide elections Saudi officials hold or to drive on the kingdom's roads. They have little say in matters of marriage and divorce. They can't travel unless their male guardian — who could even be their child — gives them a letter granting them permission to do so.

Never mind the mandatory black robe and veil that they must put on whenever they leave the house.

So when the government recently decided to renege on a promise to grant them the vote in municipal elections this fall, the women told me they'd had enough.

They were among dozens of women across the country who decided to go to registration centers and demand voting cards. The ones I interviewed hatched their plan on Twitter.

There were 11 of them. They agreed to have me along as long as I blended in with the group. Even though I'm here on a journalist visa issued by the Saudi government, the women feared my presence would lead to their being dismissed by officials as immoral Saudis who were influenced by the West.

Nor did the women want to raise the ire of the religious police should they arrive on the scene.

So I agreed to become as invisible as they feel. I placed my tape recorder in an outside pocket of my purse and left it running. I put on an opaque black veil called a niqab that covers everything but my eyes. (I already wear the black robe, or abaya, which is required of female visitors to Saudi Arabia).

Even though I'm here on a journalist visa issued by the Saudi government, the women feared my presence would lead to their being dismissed by officials as immoral Saudis who were influenced by the West. ... So I agreed to become as invisible as they feel.

I followed the sea of black-clad women into a voting center inside a boys' elementary school in the capital, Riyadh.

The sleepy male officials were startled by our arrival. Not a single man was there to sign up for elections that have otherwise generated little interest in Saudi Arabia. But here was a group of women defying the government's decision to limit the vote to men only.

I was able to make out bits and pieces of the argument that ensued. The women pleaded: We have rights as Saudi citizens. All we are asking is to register. Think of your mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. One of the women used the camera on her phone to record part of the exchange.

But the men weren't moved. It's illegal, it's immoral, it's out of our hands, were the arguments they used. The head of the center spoke to the women condescendingly and finally left, making a call to what the women feared might be the religious police.

That prompted a couple of the women to leave in a hurry. But the other nine stood their ground, turning their attention to a second voting official who turned out to be the school principal.

The women later told me he was more understanding. But in the end, he wouldn't allow them to sign up or give them voter cards.

So far, Saudi journalists report only two women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to register, and that was in the city of Khobar. When other women went to that same center the following day, they were turned away.
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Saudi Women Reunite To Remember Driving Protest Dec. 16, 2008

The women I was with agreed to meet with me at a cafe a short drive away. They were all smiles.

Most said they would try again. "We just have to find someone who will let us do it — someone who, you know, sees his daughter in us or his wife, or believes in it," said 23-year-old Sara, a social media worker. (She, like many of the women in this report, asked their last names not be used to protect their families.)

Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani, president of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, hopes the women will keep trying to claim the vote.

"They work for it, so I think they have the right to participate. But I really don't understand the government, the mentality of the government," he said. "I think the reason is that government is using it as quid pro quo toward extremists."

The people Qahtani is referring to are the hard-line Islamic fundamentalists in the kingdom, who, among other things, run the much feared religious police here and oppose giving women more rights.

What he's referring to is a widespread, but quietly held belief that King Abdullah is making concessions to these fundamentalists, who in turn keep Saudi citizens in check at a time when political dissent in the kingdom is growing.

The Saudi women in this story are not the first to make a public statement against discrimination in their country. In late 1990, a group of professors and other professionals defied the ban against females driving.

The drivers were arrested and later shunned by many of their students, friends and relatives. Leaflets with their names that described them as whores and their husbands as pimps circulated around the capital. They suffered reprisals at work and had their passports confiscated by the government.

At the coffee shop, many of the would-be voters say they thought of those women as they hatched their plan.

"They were braver and it gives a push on some level, but it's also disappointing on another because look at them now — what did they do? They changed nothing," said Rasha Al-Duwisi, who is 30 and a stay-at-home mother.

Still, Duwisi and the rest of these women say they are determined to press on.
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

May 23, 2011
Saudis Arrest Woman Leading Right-to-Drive Campaign

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The government of Saudi Arabia moved swiftly to extinguish a budding protest movement of women claiming the right to drive, a campaign inspired by uprisings across the Arab world demanding new freedoms but at risk Monday of foundering.

Manal al-Sharif, 32, one of the campaign organizers, was detained Sunday in the eastern city of Dammam for up to five days on charges of disturbing public order and inciting public opinion by twice driving in a bid to press her cause, said her lawyer, Adnan al-Saleh.

Ms. Sharif was arrested after two much-publicized drives last week to highlight the Facebook and Twitter campaigns she helped organize to encourage women across Saudi Arabia to participate in a collective protest scheduled for June 17.

The campaigns, which had attracted thousands of supporters — more than 12,000 on the Facebook page — have been blocked in the kingdom. Ms. Sharif’s arrest was very likely intended to give others pause before participating in the protests in a country where a woman’s public reputation, including her ability to marry, can be badly damaged by an arrest.



If Muslim women could ride on camels 14 centuries ago, why shouldn't they drive cars today?
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The new Muslim marriage contract should empower women

Islam emphasises love, kindness and mercy between spouses. Hopefully this contract will make that more of a reality for women

Tehmina Kazi, Friday 8 July 2011 14.56 BST
Article history

It is no surprise that household chores are the bane of many marriages, and the competing demands of modern life have compounded this situation for women in particular. Who, then, wouldn't jump at the chance to sign a marriage contract that potentially exempts women from wiping up vomit and scraping hair out of the plughole? Yet most people gasp with shock when I explain to them that Muslim women are able to stipulate such conditions in their marriage contracts – and that Islamic law sanctions this choice. Far greater coverage is afforded to the issue of forced marriages (which are strongly opposed by Islam and also take place in other minority communities) as well as the oppressive treatment – both real and perceived – of Muslim women who are in consensual marriages. Such stories fly in the face of Islamic teachings, which emphasise love, kindness and mercy between spouses.

Last Friday, I attended the relaunch of an initiative that aims to bridge the lacuna between the rights Muslim women have in theory, and the deprivation of these rights that some of them experience in practice. The new Muslim marriage contract, which was originally launched in 2008 after four years of extensive research and consultation, revives Islamic opinions that are more consonant with the spirit of egalitarianism. It was drafted by Muslim Institute trustees Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui and Mufti Barkatullah, as well as Muslim Women's Network chair Cassandra Balchin, and has also acquired a new website.

The main reforms include removing the requirement for a wali (marriage guardian) for the bride, who, as an adult, can make up her own mind about whom to marry; enabling the wife to initiate divorce and retain all her financial rights agreed in the marriage contract; and encouraging mosques to register to perform marriages (so that they are automatically recognised in British law without a separate civil ceremony). As Siddiqui explained at Friday's event, he was aware of only a handful of mosques who have registered their premises so far.

Of course, no amount of paperwork will provide a miracle cure for any arrangement that is entered into with less than noble intentions. However, the Muslim marriage contract ensures a higher standard of redress for women caught up in these situations. It also provides an excellent negotiating tool for thorny issues that can throw even the most idealistic couples, such as financial management, where to live, and contact with extended family on both sides (as Heidi Withers discovered when her prospective stepmother-in-law unfairly chastised her for being "uncouth" in an email that recently went viral).

While the Muslim marriage contract has received support from community organisations, politicians, family lawyers, academics and theologians, some level of censure was expected from certain groups and individuals. At Friday's seminar, Siddiqui described how some marital interactions had been coloured by "cultural practices masquerading as religious duties". He cited the case of a man with multiple wives whose offspring felt they were treated unjustly compared to their half-brothers and -sisters. The thread running through many of these cases is the dominant party's desire to maximise their rights at any cost, while failing to uphold – or even consider – the responsibilities that accompany these rights. They forget that the main reason polygamy was allowed in the first place – according to many scholars – was to provide security and respectability to war widows, orphans, and divorced and destitute women. Yet in these supposedly enlightened times, many divorced Muslim women struggle to find suitable partners for remarriage (whether the men in question are involved in polygamous arrangements or not).

It is inevitable that such people would attempt to discredit any initiative that threatens the status quo. In the past, they may well have succeeded in silencing these voices, but they are taking on a larger network of determined activists – from Casablanca to Coventry – who will not rest until women's empowerment is achieved.

Last edited by kmaherali on Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:35 pm, edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

September 25, 2011
Saudi Monarch Grants Women Right to Vote

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Sunday granted women the right to vote and run in future municipal elections, the biggest change in a decade for women in a puritanical kingdom that practices strict separation of the sexes, including banning women from driving.

Saudi women, who are legally subject to male chaperones for almost any public activity, hailed the royal decree as an important, if limited, step toward making them equal to their male counterparts. They said the uprisings sweeping the Arab world for the past nine months — along with sustained domestic pressure for women’s rights and a more representative form of government — prompted the change.

“There is the element of the Arab Spring, there is the element of the strength of Saudi social media, and there is the element of Saudi women themselves, who are not silent,” said Hatoon al-Fassi, a history professor and one of the women who organized a campaign demanding the right to vote this spring. “Plus, the fact that the issue of women has turned Saudi Arabia into an international joke is another thing that brought the decision now.”

Although political activists celebrated the change, they also cautioned how deep it would go and how fast, given that the king referred to the next election cycle, which would not be until 2015. Some women wondered aloud how they would be able to campaign for office when they were not even allowed to drive. And there is a long history of royal decrees stalling, as weak enactment collides with the bulwark of traditions ordained by the Wahhabi sect of Islam and its fierce resistance to change.

In his announcement, the king said that women would also be appointed to the Majlis Al-Shura, a consultative council that advises the monarchy on matters of public policy. But it is a toothless body that avoids matters of royal prerogative, like where the nation’s oil revenue goes.

“We refuse to marginalize the role of women in Saudi society,” the king said in an address to the Shura, noting during the five minutes he spent on the subject that senior religious scholars had endorsed the change.

Even under the new law, it was unclear how many women would take part in elections. In many aspects of life, men — whether fathers, husbands or brothers — prevent women from participating in legal activities. Public education for women took years to gain acceptance after it was introduced in 1960.

King Abdullah, the 87-year-old monarch who has a reputation for pushing reforms opposed by some of his half-brothers among the senior princes, said the monarchy was simply following Islamic guidelines, and that those who shunned such practices were “arrogant.”

Some analysts described the king’s choice as the path of least resistance. Many Saudis have been loudly demanding that all 150 members of the Shura be elected, not appointed. By suddenly putting women in the mix, activists feared, the government might use the excuse of integration to delay introducing a nationally elected council.

Political participation for women is also a less contentious issue than granting them the right to drive, an idea fiercely opposed by some of the most powerful clerics and princes. Even as the king made the political announcement, activists said that one prominent opponent of the ban, Najla al-Hariri, was being questioned Sunday for continuing her stealth campaign of driving.

Mrs. Hariri has been vociferous in demanding the right as a single mother who cannot afford one of the ubiquitous foreign chauffeurs to ferry her children to school. In recent weeks, a woman even drove down King Fahd Expressway, the main thoroughfare through downtown Riyadh, activists said.

Municipal elections in the kingdom are scheduled for Thursday, but the campaign is almost over and the king said that women would be able to nominate themselves and vote “as of the next session.” Introduced in 2005, the municipal councils have proved disappointing for those who had hoped they would create more political change.

Saudi Arabia remains an absolute monarchy. Fouad al-Farhan, once jailed briefly for his blog critical of the monarchy, led a slate of young Saudis from the cosmopolitan commercial capital of Jidda, determined to run in this year’s municipal elections to use whatever democratic openings they might afford for change. When the final list of candidates was posted weeks ago, his name had been unceremoniously removed — without anyone from the Jidda governorate run by Prince Khalid al-Faisal calling him to explain, Mr. Farhan said.

Despite the snail’s pace of change, women on Sunday were optimistic that the right to vote and run would give them leverage to change the measures, big and small, that hem them in.

“It is a good sign, and we have to take advantage of it,” said Maha al-Qahtani, one of the women who defied the ban on driving this year, said of the king’s announcement. “But we still need more rights.”

Women require the permission of a male sponsor, or “mahram,” to travel or undertake much of the commercial activity needed to run a business. They inhabit separate and often inferior spaces in restaurants, banks and health clubs, when they are allowed in at all.

Women were granted the right to their own national identification cards in 2001, the last major step that many hoped would lead to greater public freedom, but it failed to materialize. The Saudi judiciary, a conservative bastion, has yet to allow female lawyers, a new phenomenon, to argue in court. And a royal decree issued earlier this year that women should be allowed to work in public to sell lingerie has not been enacted — leaving Saudi women to buy their bras from male clerks, who mostly hail from South Asia.

Social media, heavily used in Saudi Arabia to start with, lit up with the announcement, with supporters endorsing it as “a great leap forward,” as one Twitter post put it. Some conservatives inveighed against it.

“Muslim scholars believe it is un-Islamic to allow women to participate in the Shura council,” wrote Mohammad al-Habdan, one such scholar.

In March, King Abdullah announced $130 billion in public spending over the next decade on measures like affordable housing, hoping for social peace after the first governments in the region were toppled. But uprisings have continued to challenge Arab governments.

Around the Persian Gulf, many citizens of the wealthy monarchies jealously track the rights and largess granted in neighboring states. On Saturday, 19 men and one woman were elected to a legislative body in the United Arab Emirates. Last summer, Qatar granted a notable 60 percent pay raise to all state employees.

Such regional and domestic pressures weighed on the Saudi monarchy to make some type of gesture. The one King Abdullah chose was less sweeping than many political activists had wanted, but one they hoped was a sign of more to come.

“It is not something that will change the life of most women,” said Fawaziah Bakr, an education professor in Riyadh, noting that she had just held a monthly dinner for professional women who were buzzing with excitement about the change.

“We are now looking for even more,” Mrs. Bakr said. “The Arab spring means that things are changing, that the political power has to listen to the people. The spring gave us a clear voice.”

Nada Bakri contributed reporting from Beirut, Lebanon.


September 26, 2011
Saudi Arabia and Its Women

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia deserves credit for his long overdue decision to give women the right to vote, to run in municipal elections and to be appointed as full voting members of the Majlis Al-Shura, a government advisory group. It is a first step toward moving his country into the modern world but not nearly enough.

The list of fundamental rights still denied to Saudi women is long and shameful. Men — their fathers or husbands — control whether they can travel, work, receive health care, attend school or start a business. Women are banned from driving.

Even after Sunday’s announcement, women will not be able to vote and run for municipal elections until 2015 — even though there is an election scheduled for Thursday — and they will need the approval of a male family member to exercise either right.

The king is undoubtedly trying to head off a push for more forceful changes inspired by pro-democracy movements in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. In March, when Saudi activists called for protests, he responded by barring demonstrations and announcing nearly $130 billion in public spending. But the king also considers himself a reformer. To really prove that, he is going to have to stop pandering to ultraconservative members of the royal family and extremist Wahhabi clerics who are determined to keep Saudi women in shackles.

Laws must be changed to provide greater protections for women who are raped or suffer domestic abuse. The archaic ban on driving by women also must be lifted. In June, some Saudi women held a high-profile right-to-drive campaign that resulted in dozens of arrests. Those cases should be dropped.

One area where Saudi women are making strides is in education. But while they are 58 percent of the college graduates, they are only 14 percent of the work force. What possible future can Saudi Arabia have when half the population is not allowed to participate fully in the economy or civic life?


Asani on women's rights in Saudi Arabia

"Saudi Arabia lags way behind most Muslim countries in terms of affording rights to women," he said. "There is nothing theological about this, because women can vote in more than 50 other countries."

Asani said the country moves fast socially — with skyscrapers and technology — it remains reluctant to match that pace culturally.

The change wouldn't take effect immediately, he said, because of the social and patriarchal ties that are woven into the country's history.

"The whole thing comes out to look like it's about religion," he said. "[But] religion is tied to social, political, and cultural norms.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2011 4:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a related video linked at:

October 7, 2011
Among 3 Women Awarded Nobel Peace Prize, a Nod to the Arab Spring

SANA, Yemen — She is only 32 years old, an outspoken human rights activist and mother of three who was unknown outside her own country until she began leading anti-government protests this year.

Yet when Tawakkol Karman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, she became a standard-bearer for the Arab Spring and for the role of women across the Middle East. And as a liberal Islamist who stopped wearing the full facial veil three years ago, she appears to represent something else, too: the hope in the West that Islamic movements might someday play a positive role in rebuilding Arab societies.

“Giving it to a woman and an Islamist? That means a sort of re-evaluation,” said Nadia Mostafa, a professor of international relations at Cairo University. “It means Islam is not against peace, it’s not against women, and Islamists can be women activists, and they can fight for human rights, freedom and democracy.”

Ms. Karman was one of three women awarded the prize on Friday, alongside President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and the Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee. They were the first women honored by the committee since 2004, and the Nobel citation made clear that female empowerment was the primary message.

“We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society,” it read.

Ms. Karman seemed stunned by the award as she sat surrounded by admirers in the worn blue tent where she has lived in a sprawling protest camp for nine months. Many expected the award to go to one of the protest leaders in Egypt or Tunisia, where the revolts have succeeded in toppling authoritarian leaders. Yemen’s rebellion is far from over, and many fear that it could still devolve into civil war. And for all her activism, Ms. Karman remains a controversial figure here as a leading member of the nation’s largest Islamist party, Islah.

For these reasons and others, her selection by the Oslo-based Nobel committee seemed more an expression of hope for the future — what some commentators called wishful thinking — than a recognition of past achievements, much like the Nobel Peace Prize granted to President Obama in 2009. In both cases, the committee appeared intent on recognizing potential and hoping that its imprimatur might help drive events in its desired direction.

“It sounds churlish to say this, but it seems premature because she’s quite young and has been active for only a few years,” said Nesrine Malik, who writes on Arab and Middle Eastern Affairs in London, mainly for The Guardian. “There’s an element of, ‘We’re being hopeful,’ and it’s almost irrelevant what’s been achieved.”

Yet Ms. Karman’s selection was also widely seen in the Middle East as an endorsement of the revolts that broke out across the Arab world early this year, where popular uprisings have challenged entrenched leaders and empowered the disenfranchised. Ms. Karman made clear that she saw the prize that way.

“This is a victory for Arabs around the world,” she said on Friday afternoon, her brown eyes wide, a red flowered veil around her head. “And it will end the dictatorship of Ali Abdullah Saleh,” Yemen’s longtime president.

The award offered a brief respite for a people, and a nation, that are bogged down in a protracted standoff that Ms. Karman helped to start. Mr. Saleh refuses to leave power. Protesters refuse to leave the streets. And lethal gun battles often break out between forces loyal to the president, and defectors who have joined the opposition. Supporters gathered around Ms. Karman’s tent excitedly, chanting “God is great” and “This is the biggest prize in the world!” Even the government, which has in the past cast Ms. Karman as a villain, offered congratulations.

Although Ms. Karman is well known here for her bravery and early leading role in the protests — she acquired the nickname “Mother of the Revolution” — many of the more independent protesters resent the dominating influence of Yemen’s main Islamist party, known as Islah, and Ms. Karman’s role in it. She was seen by some as domineering and selfish, and her influence in the protests has waned in recent months.

Yet Ms. Karman’s Islamist politics are central to her role here. In a sense, she stands as an exemplar of the complexity of Islamic political movements, which are often misperceived in the West as monolithic and menacing, and are likely to play a powerful role in any governments that emerge from the Arab revolutions of 2011. Islamist parties are expected to do well in Tunisia and Egypt, which plan to hold parliamentary elections soon.

Ms. Karman has repeatedly clashed with the leaders of Islah. But instead of leaving the party, as many others have, she has tried to reshape it in a more open and tolerant direction. She has openly challenged hard-liners such as Abdel Majid al-Zindani, a cleric and party leader who has been labeled a terrorist by the United States Treasury Department.

Three years ago she stopped wearing the full facial veil, shocking many of her colleagues. Her father and uncle are prominent figures in Islah, and she has used that lineage to help push her reformist agenda.

Women like Ms. Karman have played roles across the Arab world in the protests of 2011, raising hopes that their contributions would translate into broader social and political rights. But that too, remains an aspiration, and women appear to have lost their voices in the new orders taking shape in Egypt and elsewhere.

Even in person, Ms. Karman flouts stereotypes: she speaks in a strident, passionate voice, hands jabbing the air as she defends her views on the Yemeni revolution (do not try calling it a mere rebellion). She seems as comfortable talking politics with men as she is with women, and — unlike many opposition figures — she has long been willing to criticize the Yemeni president directly.

Her face has become a common sight on television screens and newspapers in recent months, despite frequent attempts by the government and its allies to smear her as a traitor and an ideologue. She has received countless death threats, and for months she has not dared to visit her own home except in disguise. But after the award was announced, even the government joined in the general celebration. A Web site that belongs to Yemen’s ruling party published a statement congratulating Ms. Karman.

Sitting in her tent on Friday night after a day of manic celebration, Ms. Karman reminisced about her path to politics. She founded an advocacy group in 2005 called Women Journalists Without Chains. In 2007, she began staging sit-ins in front of Yemen’s Parliament and cabinet buildings, demanding greater press freedoms and more humane treatment for marginalized groups. She only gained national recognition when she took to the streets in January with a few dozen other young people to call for Mr. Saleh’s resignation. She was arrested, and her detention drew large crowds onto the streets for the first time, in what is now seen as the start of the Yemeni uprising.

“Martin Luther King has inspired me the most because he sought change peacefully,” Ms. Karman said. “Also Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, but really to the largest extent it’s Martin Luther King. We try for change using his same methods.”

Later in the evening, Ms. Karman finally took a break to chat by phone with her mother, who had called to congratulate her on the prize. She sat on the thin mattress where she has slept for months, next to her only piece of furniture, a flimsy wooden table with a TV on it. Her own children were absent: they are living with their grandparents, far from the tumult and danger of the tent city.

But Ms. Karman did have one companion. A small boy, whose father was killed by a sniper’s bullet during the protests, clung to her side.

Laura Kasinof reported from Sana, Yemen, and Robert F. Worth from Washington. Anthony Shadid contributed reporting from Istanbul and Sarah Lyall from London.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 6:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Women and Islam (Women and Religion in the World) [Hardcover]
Zayn R. Kassam (Editor)

Editorial Reviews
Book Description

In Iran, Islamist women support the right of women to work outside the home, while in Malaysia, Sisters in Islam fights to bring gender justice to Islamic law. Although the subject of women in Islam can provoke horror, fascination, pity, and at times, vitriolic reactions, Muslim women around the globe are fighting for a place in today's world.
Product Description

The expert essays in Women and Islam are designed to stimulate discussion and help readers achieve a more sober understanding of the lives of Muslim women around the world. They explore the issues Muslim women face as they fight for gender justice and meet the challenges of living in a globalized, post-9/11 world—whether in Iran or France, Ethiopia, or the United States.

Each chapter examines a different part of the globe, exploring issues arising from cultural and religious codes, as well as from internal and global politics, economics, education, and the law. Readers will glimpse the many and diverse ways in which Muslim women are actively involved in addressing the conditions embedded in their discrete environments and taking up the opportunities afforded to them, adopting strategies ranging from the political to the legal, from the theatrical to the religious.


2011 Peter Craigie Memorial Lecture - Muslim Women and the Jihad for Gender Justice

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Zayn Kassam, Professor of Religious Studies at Pomona College and Claremont Graduate University in California, examines how Muslim women are framed in western discourse and explores how Muslim thinkers historically situated in patriarchal contexts interpreted the Qur’an’s verses dealing with women and the family for legal and social purposes. She explores some of the challenges facing Muslim women as they struggle for gender justice and considers how Muslim gender activists have turned their attention to reading the Qur’an from a fresh perspective to ascertain whether it can be read as a women-friendly document.

Dr. Zayn Kassam holds her Ph.D. from McGill University and has been honoured with two awards for Distinguished Teaching. The author of a reference work on Islam as well as an edited volume on Women and Islam, she has lectured on Islam and gender in North America and in the United Kingdom, and has published articles dealing with gender, ethics, pedagogy and philosophy. Professor Kassam is currently working on a feminist theology in Islam.

Click here to download the lecture.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 5:22 am    Post subject: Muslim women should have sex with 72 men!!?? Reply with quote

The controversial Bangladeshi writer, Taslima Nasreen, once again triggered the fresh controversy according Through her twitter account, Taslima said that a Muslim Woman should have sex with 72 men. "Muslim women deserve to have sex with 72 virgin men on the earth as they won't get these things in heaven."

What is your comments on Taslima's above controversial claim? Islam never permit this actually in Islam it's called "zina" if you make sex without your husband or wife and without marriage.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

October 26, 2011
Can Islamism and Feminism Mix?

Islamists triumphed in Tunisia's election, and women stand to gain the most.

Oxford, England

TINY Tunisia, where a fruit seller’s suicide sparked the Arab Spring, held its first free elections on Sunday. Over 90 percent of registered voters turned out, far exceeding expectations. Lines of beaming blue-fingered voters poured out of polling places, proudly posting photos of their freshly inked hands on Facebook.

Yet despite Tunisia’s election day success story, many observers fear that democracy could unleash an Islamist tidal wave. The Islamist party Ennahda, banned as a terrorist group under the dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, won approximately 40 percent of votes — a resounding plurality.

A small but increasingly vocal minority of secular Tunisians are predicting that an Islamist-dominated national assembly will reverse key pieces of civil rights legislation, including those recognizing the right to abortion and prohibiting polygamy.

Tunisia’s secular feminists, many of whom are urban admirers of French-style secularism, see Ennahda women as unwitting agents of their own domination. Although Ennahda openly supports Tunisia’s 1956 Code of Personal Status — arguably the most progressive piece of women’s rights legislation in the Arab world — its critics accuse the party as a whole of purveying a “double discourse,” adopting a soft, tolerant line when speaking to francophone secularists but preaching a rabidly conservative message when addressing its rural base.

Rather than developing strong platforms of their own, secular opposition parties like Ettajdid have focused their campaign efforts almost exclusively on fear mongering, raising the specter of an Iranian-style Islamist takeover and the imposition of Shariah, the legal code of Islam. Daniel Pipes and other Western commentators have joined the fray, urging Washington to stand against the “blight” of Ennahda and labeling Islamism “the civilized world’s greatest enemy.”

But it is far too early to sound such alarms. As a result of their active participation in party politics, Ennahda women actually stand to gain more from Sunday’s election than any other group.

In May, Tunisia passed an extremely progressive parity law, resembling France’s, which required all political parties to make women at least half of their candidates. As a long-repressed party, Ennahda enjoyed more credibility than other groups. It also had a greater number of female candidates to run than any other party, and strongly supported the parity law as a result.

Many Tunisian women developed a political consciousness in reaction to Mr. Ben Ali’s severe oppression of Ennahda in the 1990s. While their husbands, brothers and sons were in jail — often for reasons as simple as attending dawn prayers — these women discovered that they had a personal stake in politics and the strength to stand alone as heads of families. When the party was legalized in March, it found a widespread base of public sympathy and grass-roots support.

As the big winner in Sunday’s elections, Ennahda will send the largest single bloc of female lawmakers to the 217-member constituent assembly. The question now is how Ennahda women will govern. Are they unwitting dupes of Islamic patriarchy, or are they merely feminist activists who happen to wear head scarves?

After interviewing 46 female activists and candidates from Ennahda, I found that many turned to politics after experiencing job discrimination, arrests, or years in prison merely because they chose to wear the head scarf or because their families were suspected of Ennahda sympathies. For some of them, this election is as much about freedom of religious expression as anything else.

“I have a master’s degree in physics but I wasn’t allowed to teach for years because of this,” said a 43-year-old woman named Nesrine, tugging the corner of her floral-print hijab, a veil banned under Mr. Ben Ali but legalized since his departure. According to Mounia Brahim and Farida Labidi, 2 of the 13 members of Ennahda’s Executive Council, the party welcomes strong, critical women in its ranks. “Look at us,” Ms. Brahim said. “We’re doctors, teachers, wives, mothers — sometimes our husbands agree with our politics, sometimes they don’t. But we’re here and we’re active.”

These women are not likely to oppose women’s rights legislation. Ennahda women are, first and foremost, Tunisians. They are well educated, and their brand of Islamism, like Tunisian society as a whole, is relaxed and comparatively progressive. Since the 1950s, Tunisian women have enjoyed greater legal protections than their counterparts in other Arab states.

Tunisians are currently seeking to reconcile this legacy of largely French-inspired civil rights policies with the aspirations of a devout public. Ennahda’s challenge lies in striking the right balance.

To do so, the party has explicitly declared that it will emulate Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party, known as the A.K.P., which has cracked down on corruption, involved women as equal political partners, and delivered stunning economic growth rates.

Replicating this model of moderation and pious prosperity will be hard work in Tunisia, a country with staggering levels of unemployment and 25 percent illiteracy. Turkish-style democracy may look less progressive in Tunis — where angry protests recently broke out at a screening of the film “Persepolis” — than in Istanbul, where bars and dance clubs dot the city’s streets.

And there is a chance, of course, that democratic gains for women could be reversed. As history has shown in America, France, Algeria and Iran, revolutionary movements don’t always lead to greater gender equality or more inclusive politics. Women often fight fearlessly in such liberation struggles only to be sidelined when new national governments form.

Tunisian women, however, are well poised to avoid this fate. Tunisia has done an excellent job of including women in its transitional institutions thus far. This is especially true when viewed in comparison with Egypt, where the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces recently banned women from heading any party lists.

Ennahda has thus far used its newfound political heft to stimulate rather than stifle women’s participation in Tunisian politics. Its activists are presenting a potentially more accessible model of “Islamist feminism” to many rural and socially conservative Tunisian women than that of secularist parties.

Vocal, active, and often veiled, they are comfortable with the language of piety and politics. Despite the fear mongering of secular skeptics and Western pundits, their actions and aspirations are far more reminiscent of Turkey’s A.K.P. than Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Monica Marks is a doctoral student in Middle Eastern Studies at Oxford University.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 6:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Under-representation of women in leadership hampers businesses

Executives call for increased recognition of their potential

* By Samihah Zaman and Nathalie Farah, Staff Reporters
* Published: 00:00 November 25, 2011
* Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The low numbers of women in entrepreneurial and managerial positions in the Arab world could be reducing profit margins, leading executives said at a conference in the capital yesterday.

Citing global studies that showed women-owned businesses grew faster than those owned by men, the executives called for the cultural recognition of the female potential in the UAE's corporate sector.

"Today, nearly 66 per cent of positions in the UAE's public sector are occupied by Emirati women, compared to only 4 per cent in private corporations," Almas Jiwani, president of the United Nations Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women, said.

Article continues below

"It is therefore critically important that they be empowered enough to occupy decision-making roles in private companies."

She was speaking at the third annual Women in Leadership Forum. The two day event, which took place at the Emirates Palace Hotel, ended yesterday.

"It is also surprising to see that despite the high number of educated women present in the Middle East, only a quarter of all women end up as active members of the workforce, which is a shame, since 77 per cent of them enrol at universities," Almas added.

Speakers also presented statistics highlighting their concerns about the lack of female leadership in organisations. Among them, in 2006, only 10 per cent of all managerial positions in the Arab world were held by women. They also stressed that although women earn only 10 per cent of the global income at present, Fortune 500 companies with a large female presence in senior positions earn 53 per cent more profit.

Verbally proficient

"Women are verbally proficient, sensitive to cultural differences and foster long-term collaborative relationships more frequently than male employees," Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansour, wife of the Malaysian prime minister, said.

"Still, studies from around the world have shown that their potential as a source of economic growth has been neglected and underdeveloped."

Jiwani also noted that cultural beliefs about women's roles in the Middle East were a cause for their low participation in the workforce.

"Since women have a tougher time balancing work and life, lack of household support is another factor holding them back," she added.

The forum also highlighted several models for successful women's integration and entrepreneurship, such as the Coca Cola Company's ‘5 by 20' initiative, which began last year.

"Through this ten-year project, we will provide funding and logistical support to five million women worldwide," Dr Susan Mboya, group director of the Eurasia Africa Group for Women's Empowerment at the Coca Cola Company, said.

"In Egypt, Pakistan and Zambia, we are financing 200 women to start their own businesses, and the main reason why this initiative could have a significant impact on local communities is because we are also training women in vocational skills, and enabling them to secure bank loans."

Alongside the forum, the Shaikha Shamsa Bint Suhail Award for Creative Women was also awarded to 15 Emirati women for their achievements in various sectors.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2011 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

December 1, 2011
For Afghan Woman, Justice Runs Into Unforgiving Wall of Custom

KABUL, Afghanistan — When the Afghan government announced Thursday that it would pardon a woman who had been imprisoned for adultery after she reported that she had been raped, the decision seemed a clear victory for the many women here whose lives have been ground down by the Afghan justice system.

But when the announcement also made it clear that there was an expectation that the woman, Gulnaz, would agree to marry the man who raped her, the moment instead revealed the ways in which even efforts guided by the best intentions to redress violence against women here run up against the limits of change in a society where cultural practices are so powerful that few can resist them, not even the president.

The solution holds grave risks for Gulnaz, who uses one name, since the man could be so humiliated that he might kill his accuser, despite the risk of prosecution, or abuse her again.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

4 January 2012

Women only to work in Saudi Arabia lingerie shops

By Emily Buchanan BBC world affairs correspondent
Saudi women to be served by female staff Saudi women will be served only by female staff in lingerie shops
Continue reading the main story
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A law allowing only women to work in lingerie shops in Saudi Arabia is coming into force.

Campaigners hope this will end decades of awkwardness in the Islamic kingdom where women have always been served by male shop assistants.

The heated issue of the total lack of female shop workers in Saudi Arabia has simmered for years.

Many Saudi women say they have felt particularly uncomfortable buying their lingerie from men.

Female campaigners recently increased the pressure for change through a Facebook campaign and a boycott of lingerie stores.

Now King Abdullah's royal decree finally comes into effect, banning male staff from selling female underwear.

"It's about time, it's been a long struggle and the authorities have finally come to their senses," says Radio Jeddah journalist Samar Fatany.

She says she, and any woman who could afford to, would often shop abroad rather than face the embarrassment of giving her underwear size over the counter to a man.

The campaign has gained extra momentum from the increasing number of young women who want to enter the workplace.

The Saudi women who can work are usually the educated elite who do professional jobs in medicine or government.

The new law could potentially create up to 40,000 jobs for ordinary Saudi women who have hitherto had little or no access to employment.

But it also means that male clerks, most of whom are foreign workers, will be out of a job.

It is not far short of a social revolution being pushed through in the teeth of fierce opposition from the kingdom's top clerics.

They do not want to see an increase in the number of women working outside the home.

The kingdom's Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdel Aziz al-Sheikh, has warned shop owners that employing women is a "crime and prohibited by Islamic sharia law".

"There is already a growing tension between liberals and the religious conservatives in the country and this issue could provoke opposition from the religious police," says Abeer Mishkhas is a columnist for the Saudi paper Asharq al-Awsat.

The Ministry of Labour will be posting observers in shopping centres to make sure the new shop assistants do not get harassed in their first weeks of work.

The ban on male staff in lingerie departments is due to be extended to cosmetics shops from July.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many Saudi women say they have felt particularly uncomfortable buying their lingerie from men.

would often shop abroad rather than face the embarrassment of giving her underwear size over the counter to a man.

What a strange!! they feel uncomfortable when buying their lingerie from men in Saudi Arabia but they are not feel uncomfortable when they buying lingerie from men in abroad!!!
That means it is OK to buy their lingerie from men(male clerks) in abroad but not from men in Saudi Arabia!! is not this strange and rubbish??
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a strange!! they feel uncomfortable when buying their lingerie from men in Saudi Arabia but they are not feel uncomfortable when they buying lingerie from men in abroad!!!
That means it is OK to buy their lingerie from men(male clerks) in abroad but not from men in Saudi Arabia!! is not this strange and rubbish??

Something tells me that you should open up a new lingerie store agakhani bhai icon_lol.gif icon_lol.gif
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good suggestion but I don't have any plan to sell ladies lingerie but if you become my partner then I might think about that icon_lol.gif icon_rolleyes.gif
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Women in Hunza can!

Last updated: 02/07/2012 // Young women in Karimabad, in the Hunza valley have proved that they can work in male dominated fields and become accepted in the society. Norway has since 2008 sponsored a project which aims at giving poor young women the opportunity to self-sustainability through income in non-traditional sectors.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2012 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Samina Baig, Pakistani female mountaineer: Gender Equality Dream Expedition to Spantik Peak (7027m)

A Quest beyond Limits IV – Gender Equality Dream Expedition to Spantik Peak (7027m)A myth and barrier breaking mountain climbing expedition in Pakistan adventure history

Continuing the quest to promote outdoor sports after three successful mountain climbing expeditions and a small school in Arandu valley in Baltistan, it is our great pleasure to launch another historical, myth, and barrier breaking mountain climbing expedition for Gender Equality to a 7027 m Peak. The expedition has been named “Gender Equality Dream Expedition Spantik Peak (7027m),2012. Samina Baig, the only rising female mountaineer of Pakistan is the center character of the expedition along other foreign friends! The expedition is aimed to promote outdoor education, awareness in Pakistan, promote women adventure and empower women through adventure! This expedition is a myth breaking Adventure in Pakistan mountain climbing history and a gate way for Pakistani woman to embark on high altitude mountain climbing.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear family and friends,

I am honored to have been commissioned to do a lecture for high school-aged youth of Abrahamic faiths on Bibi Khadija, the first wife of Prophet
Muhammad and the first Muslim, as an exemplary Muslim woman whose life inspires contemporary societies, of any faith, to live ethically and to
apply Islam's teachings to life's challenges.

Bibi Khadija was an extraordinary woman and role model; it was humbling for me to research and talk about her life. I hope I did it justice.

My lecture, entitled "Khadija: A Window into the Soul of Islam," was
recently taped and can be viewed at

Although the lecture is geared towards youth, I hope you are inspired by her example just as I am.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Answer to christian lady regarding muslim head scarf [FUNNY]
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2014 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

High in Pakistan's mountains, women break taboos

HUNZA: A group of young girls sit on a carpeted floor listening as their teacher writes on a whiteboard, preparing his students for the rigours of climbing some of the world's highest peaks.

This is Shimshal Mountaineering School, tucked away in a remote village in the breathtaking mountains of Pakistan's far north, close to the border with China.

While most of Pakistan's overwhelmingly patriarchal society largely relegates women to domestic roles, in the northern Hunza valley, where most people follow the Ismaili sect of Islam, a more liberal attitude has long prevailed.

Now the women of the region are breaking more taboos and training for jobs traditionally done by men, including as carpenters and climbing guides on the Himalayan peaks.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2014 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

She was an Ismaili women name samina baig who is the first women in pakistan to climb Mount K2 and seven summits. She is working on a future mission to climb Mt Everest.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 12:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saudi spinsters: A new generation of women are breaking with tradition and making their own choices on education, careers - and even marriage

Amna Fatani knows she wants a brilliant career and a life different from that of Saudi women of her mother’s generation who married early, usually to a husband not of their own choosing.

The 27-year-old, studying for her master’s degree at Georgetown University in Washington and hoping to someday become Saudi Arabia’s first female labour minister, is part of a growing number of Saudi women choosing to remain single through their twenties and into their thirties as they pursue other ambitions.

The trend has ruffled ultra-conservatives who see it as an affront to the very foundations of the kingdom, where strict interpretations of Islam and rigid tribal codes have long dictated terms of marriage.

“My friends and I have reached a point [where] we’re very specific about what we want,” she said. “I need someone who trusts that if I need to do something, I can make the decision to ask for help or choose to do it alone.”

Saudi women stand at the centre of a societal pivot between the kingdom’s push for greater women’s education and rights to work, and laws that say women cannot travel, study abroad, marry or undergo certain medical procedures without the permission of a male guardian – usually a father or husband, or in their absence, an older or even a younger brother.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mona Eltahawy Doesn’t Need to Be Rescued

In your new book, “Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution,” you write about your decision to start wearing the hijab as a teenager. What prompted it? My family moved to Saudi Arabia from the U.K. when I was 15. I was groped twice while on pilgrimage to Mecca. It made me feel like I just wanted to hide my body. I struck a deal with God. I said: “They say a good Muslim woman should wear a head scarf. I’ll do it if you save my mind.”

But you stopped wearing it at around 25. What happened? I was on the metro in Cairo, wearing my hijab, and a woman who was wearing the niqab — a full-face veil — sat opposite me. We got into a conversation, and I realized that she wanted me to dress the way that she did. She said, “Would you rather eat a piece of candy that was in a wrapper or unwrapped?” I said to her, “I’m a woman, not a piece of candy.”

Why is it important to you to remain a Muslim, rather than rejecting your faith outright, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali has? I often talk about Khadijah, Muhammad’s first wife. She owned a business, and she employed Muhammad. She was 15 years older than him, she was a divorcée and she proposed to him. If she was the first person to become a Muslim, something in that faith is worth holding on to.

Some women in the Arab world have criticized your work, saying you portray Arab women as helpless. I’m not saying, “Come rescue us.” I don’t believe anyone can or should rescue us. I’m pointing out what the enemy is. And the enemy is misogyny and patriarchy
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2015 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ISNA Statement on the Inclusion of Women in Masjids

In the name of Allah Most Compassionate Most Merciful

We, the undersigned Muslim scholars, leaders, organizations and concerned Muslims, voice our strong commitment to uphold and realize the Prophetic ideal of masjids being open and inclusive of women. Striving to realize the Prophetic model, we call upon all masjids to ensure that (1) women are welcomed as an integral part of masjids and encouraged to attend, (2) women have a prayer space in the main musalla which is behind the lines of men but not behind a full barrier that disconnects women from the main musalla and prevents them from seeing the imam; and (3) women actively participate in the decision-making process of the masjid, best realized by having women on the governing bodies of masjids.

The defining principle underlying this call is Allah’s description of the ideal relationship of men and women in the Muslim community:

The believing men and the believing women are awliya’ (supporters, helpers, protectors, patrons) of one another: they (both) enjoin what is known to be good and forbid what is known to be bad; they establish salah and pay zakah; and they obey Allah and His Messenger. These are the ones on whom Allah will bestow mercy—indeed Allah is exalted in power, wise (9:71).

This verse clearly sets the general principle that believing men and women support one another in the great mission of Islam—striving for good, opposing evil, and establishing the pillars of salah and zakah. Thus Muslim men and women are partners in establishing the faithful Muslim community—both are needed, both are essential. There are also many other Qur’anic verses (e.g. 9:18, 7:31) which establish the general principle that it is the believing Muslims—men and women—who maintain and frequent the masjids.[1]

1. Masjids Should be Welcoming to Women

The active presence of women in the masjid during the time of the Prophet Muhammad is clearly evidenced in numerous hadith. Hadith confirm that in the Prophet’s masjid women prayed salah regularly,[2] attended Jum’ah Prayer,[3] made optional prayer (nawafil),[4] did i’tikaf in the masjid during Ramadan,[5] and met in the masjid.[6] The Prophet demonstrated the welcoming nature of his masjid, for example, by shortening prayers when children started crying.[7] To help facilitate a healthy environment and avoid fitnah (temptation), the Messenger of Allah instructed both men and women to dress properly, lower their gaze and guard their modesty. Women received an additional instruction not to wear perfume when attending the masjid.[8]

The general guideline was set by Prophet Muhammad when he ordered that women be allowed to freely attend the masjid: “If the wife of anyone of you asks permission to attend the masjid, he should not prevent her.”[9] When Ibn Umar’s son, Bilal, responded to this hadith by saying “We will prevent them,” Ibn Umar harshly reprimanded his son for the audacity of opposing the explicit instruction of the Prophet .[10]

Thus we call on all our masjids to be welcoming to women—such that their experience at the masjid be uplifting and not demeaning. To realize the ideal of being welcoming to women, masjids should (a) ensure that women’s accommodations are comfortable, clean and well-lit; (b) support and facilitate women’s activities and groups; and (c) proclaim clearly on the minbar and by other means that women are an integral part of the masjid.

The hadith that “the best prayer of a woman is in her house,”[11] cannot be taken as a general guideline, because the great female companions, including the Prophet’s wives, prayed in the Prophet’s masjid. If the hadith was supposed to apply to all women, the wives of the Prophet and the female companions would not have gone to the masjid. The best understanding of this hadith, therefore, is that an allowance exists for some women to pray at home depending on their circumstances (such as Umm Humaid who was instructed to pray in her home)[12], but it cannot be interpreted as a ruling for all women at all times.

In the same vein, Sayyidah Aishah’s remarks that “had the Prophet known what women were innovating, he would have forbidden them from attending the masjid,”[13] cannot be taken as a general guideline, altering the Prophet’s practice of including women in the masjid, because speculation of what the Prophet might have intended cannot be used as a proof.[14] Sayyidah Aishah in fact did not explicitly say, women should be prevented from attending the masjid, and it is known that the Rightly-Guided Caliphs did not prevent women, and that women continued to attend the masjid during the time of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs. This hadith in fact confirms the general principle that women are allowed to attend the masjid as long as they fulfill the instructions of dressing properly and avoiding perfume.

The underlying concern in these hadith and the opinion of many scholars is the avoidance of fitnah (temptation). However, in the American context, where society in many cases pulls Muslims away from Islam and where women and men have many choices of where to go and how to spend their time, the best choice to avoid fitnah for everyone is to spend more time in the masjid where they will hopefully become better Muslims and lend a hand to growing the Muslim community. When masjids provide women full access to prayers, activities and the decision-making process, the entire community will ultimately benefit.

2. Women Should Have Prayer Space in the Main Musalla without Barriers
The masjid of Prophet Muhammad and the masjids during the time of the Four Rightly-Guided Caliphs did not have a barrier separating men and women. Men prayed in the front lines, children in the middle, and women behind the children. All the schools of Islamic Law, Sunni and Shi’ah, agree on this point. So why should we adopt any other ideal? When women are in the main musalla, they are naturally more attentive, more engaged and thus better able to fulfill their function as awliya’—supporters and contributors to establishing the Muslim community.

Some Muslims argue that the barrier is necessary to guard against fitnah (temptation). However the Prophet never stated that a women’s presence in the mosque in and of itself is a source of fitnah. The instruction to men to avoid fitna is to lower their gaze; not to put a physical barrier that blocks women from the main musalla. The benefit in the rule of having women engaged in the masjid outweighed some hypothetical possibility of fitnah.

We call upon masjids to ensure that women have access to the main musalla to perform salah, listen to the Jum’ah khutbah or attend and participate in lectures or discussions. This should be in addition to any separate area that currently exists for women. Recognizing that the architecture of some masjids may make it difficult to find a barrier-free space for women in the main musalla, especially for Jum’ah, masjids still have the duty to find a solution to realize the sunnah of including women in the main musalla.

3. Women Should Participate in the Masjid Decision-Making Process
Allah gave the general command to the Prophet and the Muslims to conduct their affairs by shura, and necessarily shura includes women.[15] Being partners in establishing Islam, the voice of women must be present in the deliberations of the Muslim community. The Prophet did not have a formal shura process, but he did set the example of consulting with all segments of the Muslim community, including women. Masjids in North America, however, do have formal decision-making mechanisms, and it is, therefore, incumbent that women participate in all processes of formal shura, including serving on the governing bodies of masjids. Also from an American legal standpoint and a best practice perspective, masjid boards should be representative and gender inclusive. In addition masjids are encouraged to create positions of official authority and influence for women, whereby the community at large can benefit from their talents, expertise, moral example and experience.

We call upon all Muslims—in particular masjids—to sign this statement and then work to make our masjids more inclusive of women. Please sign onto this Statement by going to:

This statement was initially prepared by ISNA’s Task Force for Women-Friendly Masjids (a part of ISNA’s Masjid Development Committee), and then modified with the input of the Fiqh Council of North America and many other Islamic scholars.

Endorsed by the following:
ISNA’s Task Force for Women-Friendly Masjids
Atiya Aftab
Aisha Al-Adawiya
Ihsan Bagby
Hind Makki
Sarah Sayeed, Chair

Fiqh Council of North America
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2015 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Women Carpenters of Hunza


This short film is produced by trainees of "Youth Eye, Citizen Journalist" Initiative on Women Carpenters in Hunza, Pakistan. Such professions are unusual in a typical Pakistani society. This video is based on project (CIQAM) of Aga Khan Cultural Services Pakistan.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2015 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

2015 Distinguished Alumni Award - Anar Simpson, BSc'86, MCS'01

Tech powerhouse Anar Simpson is empowering women and girls around the world through technology.

Champion of the Technovation Challenge – which encourages thousands of girls around the world to participate in the technology industry, special advisor to the office of the chair, Mozilla, on expanding girls’ influence in technology, strategic partnerships advisor for the U.S. State Department’s TechWomen program—and Anar Simpson still remembers the first story she wrote for the Gauntlet as a freshman in the 1980s, which was fraught with questions of how to make the world a better place.

Computer science took Simpson from Calgary to Silicon Valley, and around the world

Simpson worked at a start-up, then moved up the ladder in the IT department of the oil and gas industry and eventually arrived in Silicon Valley where she founded her own company. She also became involved in Technovation, a program that gets girls and young women to team up and design, develop and pitch mobile apps. As Global Ambassador, she has helped grow Technovation to 60 countries.

“My degree in computer science has been a north star for me throughout my career,” Simpson says. “Many folks think that once they have gone through their university education then that's it and another chapter of their lives begin.” But that’s not how it worked out for Simpson.

Student, staff member, guest lecturer - Simpson's UCalgary roots run deep

Not only did she come back the university to do a masters in communication, she has lectured at the Haskayne School of Business, managed the MD program in the Faculty of Medicine and has acted as a consultant with the Office of the President at UCalgary. More recently, she brought Technovation to campus and was delighted when a team from the University of Calgary won the seniors competition in 2014.

Simpson is honoured to receive the Alumni Achievement Award. “Recognition from one's own alma mater is superb and second to none.” She and her husband, Todd BSc’87, PhD’91, have stayed very involved with the university over the years. “Our close relationship with the university is mutually beneficial and very rewarding,” she says.

Simpson may have moved to the San Francisco area but she has definitely left her heart at the University of Calgary.

Photos provided by Anar Simpson.
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