Empowering Women in Islam: A Call for Action on Education, Empowerment, and Peace

In her address at an international conference in Jeddah on the rights and role of women in Islam, the focus was on the need for concerted action in key areas such as education, economic empowerment, and fostering peace.

She expressed deep concern about the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza, emphasizing the Secretary-General’s strong condemnation of civilian casualties and hostage-taking. Her call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, unconditional hostage release, and unrestricted access to those in need underscored the urgency of the situation. She stressed that the region and the world must unite to end this devastating violence and restore peace, highlighting the importance of involving women in future peace negotiations.

The discussion revolved around restoring Islam’s original vision, where an individual’s worth was not determined by gender but by their beliefs and deeds. While Islam has recognized women’s rights in areas like political participation, inheritance, and property ownership, many centuries later, women continue to face inequality and discrimination. Women and girls are often the first and most severely affected, resulting in broader societal repercussions, including reduced peace, prosperity, and justice.

Ms. Mohammed called for collective efforts on three critical fronts to address these injustices. First, she stressed the need to ensure universal access to education, particularly for women and girls, in alignment with the principles of the Holy Quran. Education should be inclusive, progressive, and respectful of societal, religious, and cultural norms, promoting dignity and agency for all individuals. The dire situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban’s harsh restrictions impede women’s access to education, was highlighted as an urgent concern.

Secondly, economic opportunities and rights for women and girls were emphasized as a matter of justice, progress, and prosperity for society as a whole. When women are unable to contribute to their communities and economies, it results in the violation of women’s rights, as is evident in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, Ms. Mohammed pointed to hopeful examples from various Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, and Senegal, where Muslim women are actively participating in various fields and promoting progress while respecting tradition.

Lastly, the importance of advancing women’s leadership, particularly in conflict resolution, mediation, and peace sustainability, was underlined. Inclusive peace processes, involving women, lead to more enduring peace outcomes. Contrary to stereotypes, Muslim societies have experienced dynamic transformations throughout history, adapting to evolving values and circumstances. Muslim jurists have found interpretations of Islamic Law that align with changing circumstances and values, and Muslim states have reformed their laws to enable greater participation of women in politics and the economy.

In conclusion, Ms. Mohammed urged everyone to listen to and amplify the voices of women in Islamic societies, with a particular focus on the women of Afghanistan. She emphasized the need to dispel misconceptions and ignorance regarding the compatibility of women’s education and opportunities with Islamic faith.