KUALA LUMPUR, June 12 — Sisters In Islam (SIS) co-founder Zainah Anwar said that Islamic feminism in Malaysia needs more public awareness to grow and build public pressure before it can start making an impact on national policy.
She said that it was unwise to expect the government to be wholly responsibility for uplifting Muslim women’s rights, while stressing the importance of forging alliances with other women’s rights groups.
“The challenge is, for us, how do we make it politically costly for those who have the authority to continue to ignore our demands?
“That’s why the concentration must be on the emphasis of knowledge, of building knowledge, of building voices, on opening up a public space for debate,” she said during a SIS event for the launch of Ziba Mir-Hosseini’s book Journeys Toward Gender Equality in Islam at Temu House here on June 7.
Continuing to comment on the importance of alliances, Zainah said that organisations are key to building a strong foundation for a resilient reform movement.
“That’s why you can’t do this alone and you have to have an organisation that’s going to give you support every time you are attacked, and you have to build alliances so that they can stand with you when you are attacked,” she added.
Meanwhile, Ziba said the means to an end is just as crucial, which is outlined in her book.
“The means to achieving our goal is as important as the goal itself,” she said.
In her book, Ziba examines gender equality, as inherent to contemporary conceptions of justice, and presents a challenge to established, patriarchal interpretations of Sharia.
She explores how egalitarian gender laws might be constructed from within the Islamic legal framework through thought-provoking discussions with six influential Muslim intellectuals: Abdullahi An-Naim, amina wadud, Asma Lamrabet, Khaled Abou El Fad, Mohsen Kadivar and Sedigheh Vasmaghi.