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Global Meeting for Equality and Justice

Feb 26, 2009, 4:28 AM | Article By: Amie Sillah

The Global Movement for Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family invited more than 250 Muslim scholars and thinkers from 48 countries to participate in a global meeting to launch MUSAWAH at the Prince Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The meeting opened with a gala event on the evening of Friday 13th Feb, 2009 and continued with a series of plenary, workshops and discussion sessions from 14th to 17th February, 2009.

The objectives of the global meeting are to:

Launch Musawah as a global movement and introduce its framework for action; Understand the centrality of family law and key issues from both Muslim Minority and Majority populations; Provide participants with access to knowledge and tools that they can use in their local contexts; and Build linkages with other global struggles for women's human rights; To empower women's groups, activists and practitioners through the sharing of knowledge and experiences and to agree on the way forward for MUSAWAH.

According to Zainah Anwar, MUSAWAH's project director, "It is our hope that Musawah as a global movement will lead to that day when those in the Muslim world will realise that women's demands for equality and justice are neither alien nor a threat to Islam, but are rooted in the Islamic tradition. Equality and Justice are non-negotiable and these values must be at the core of what it means to be Muslim today."

The MUSAWAH Launch illustrated the strength of diversity. Sisters from other religious faiths shared their life experiences and how they suffer discrimination because of their religion. The consensus was that despite our differences, specificities, divergences, we share a commonality of problems such as the exploitation of women, oppression, alienation and degradation which is being perpetrated and perpetuated in the name of religion.

Women have to demystify and deconstruct the myths. All religions are just. They preach equality and justice. The differences and prejudices arise from our interpretation of the religious texts. Women have to learn about our religion, interpret it in the spirit of equality, justice and fairness. The anthropologists and archaeologists told us that the women in Medina were activists. They participated fully in religious discourse, asked questions and Allah through Prophet (PBUH) gave those answers.

The conclusion was that equality and justice is possible within the Muslim Family; that women must create space for their voices to be heard. This is the world trend. It is unstoppable!

Dr. Isatou Touray, executive director of The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices (Gamcotrap), was part of the global planning of the MUSAWAH meeting. She was also part of the discussion at a panel meeting of the day one of the conference. The Gambian delegation, led Dr. Isatou Touray, also included Mrs. Amie Bojang Sissoho, programme officer (Gamcotrap), Amie Sillah (WODD, Foroyaa Newspaper).