Islam does not teach Muslims to oppress women, but still, men consider Muslim women to remain in their homes and not venture outside. Furthermore, they also believe that married Muslim women should stay at home and serve their husbands throughout their lives. Most Muslim women who haven’t yet broken the shackles of orthodox Islamic doctrines are neither educated, nor allowed to work or have an opinion of their own!
Many people consider Muslims a backward race, but that’s not true! Some of their ideologies are backward. For example, in India, despite their population almost trebling in the decade ending 2010, the rate of Muslim enrolment in higher education is far behind (at 13.8%) the national figure of 23.6% and that of other backward classes (22.1%) and scheduled castes (18.5%). Scheduled tribes lagged Muslims by just 0.5%!
This is a matter of serious concern! The world needs to have more modern, educated, and strong-willed Muslim women who can contribute more to the progress of this world in a more wholesome manner.
Many Muslim women are taking cues from the western world and are breaking the shackles of orthodox principles and are considering their oppression as backward and unfitting. Muslim women are slowly arising and awakening themselves from the mindless, adolescent principles that have ruled over them for centuries. The Muslim women achievers you are going to be reading about will make you really proud of being a Muslim woman!
Here are some Muslim women from around the world who are breaking gender stereotypes and proving the world wrong when it comes what a ‘Muslima’ can do:
Muniba Mazari, Pakistan
Muniba Mazari is Pakistan’s only wheelchair-bound TV anchor who originally hails from Rahim Yar Khan. She has been in a wheelchair for over a decade after a car accident left her with a debilitating spinal cord injury in 2007 at the young age of 21. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Fine arts and has also established her brand ‘Muniba’s Canvas’ with the slogan “Let Your Walls Wear Colors.” The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women) named Mazari as Pakistan’s first female UN Goodwill Ambassador in 2015. She helps Pakistani women talk about gender inequalities, gender discrimination and gives them education on how to stand up and make a mark for themselves. She was recently included in Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30 list” for 2016.
Mazoun Almellehan, Syria
Often dubbed as ‘The Arab Malala’, Muzoon Almellehan is a Syrian activist and refugee resettled in the United Kingdom who is persuading parents to leave their children, particularly girls, in refugee schools rather than making them marry early. She is known for her work to keep Syrian girls in school and has been very active in advocating for girls’ education in the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan. She sprung to activism when she noticed that half of the 40 girls in her class at Za’atari dropped out of school to get married. Almellehan is a friend of Malala Yousafzai, whom she met in 2014 when Yousafzai was visiting the refugee camp Almellehan was staying in. Yousafzai later invited Almellehan to the ceremony at which the former received the Nobel Peace Prize. Almellehan’s activism received recognition in a number of countries, and has led to her receiving the sobriquet “Malala of Syria”
Somayya Jabarti, Saudi Arabia
She was the first ever female editor-in-chief of a newspaper in Saudi Arabia called Saudi Gazette. She has written hundreds of articles on women’s issues in the Arab world and was also the only Saudi reporter on the ground in the midst of the revolution in Tahrir Square. She was selected as one of the BBC 100 Women List in 2015, Arabian Business Top 100 Most Powerful Arab Women in 2014 and 2015, and Alarabiya’s Top 10 Muslim women that made headlines in 2014
Lina Khalifeh, Jordan
Lina Khalifeh, a martial artist, and women’s empowerment campaigner is the Founder of ‘SheFighter’, a self-defense studio for women in the Middle East which she started in 2010. She was inspired to start her studio because of the massive rate of violence against women in society and especially where she hails from. She now trains women in self-defense to help them protect themselves in times of crisis like combating domestic abuse and extra-marital rape.
She was inspired to help women when one of her friends was brutally attacked badly by her father and brother. She won first place at the Women in Business convention that was held at the United Nations in Geneva, and she was also mentioned by the-then US President Barack Obama during his speech at the White House in 2015 for his boldness and tenacity.
Flight Lieutenant Ayesha Farooq, Pakistan
She is Pakistan’s first ever-female fighter pilot in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) who dons her military attire like she means business! It was tough for her initially to enter into this testosterone-fuelled profession, but soon made her mark! She flies her missions in Squadron 20 and her aircraft is a Chinese-made Chengdu J-7 fighter jet. She is accompanied by 24 male colleagues in her squadron! She is now actively involved in purging Waziristan from the Taliban. She is a national hero in her country.