Sisters in Islam's Zainah Anwar among 10 most influential Muslim women

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 31 Dec 2013

PETALING JAYA: Two Malaysians – Zainah Anwar (pix) and Zarizana Aziz – have been listed by San Francisco-based International Museum of Women (IMOW) among its 10 most influential Muslim women.

Zainah and Zarizana, prominent figures in Sisters in Islam (SIS) and Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML), respectively, joined a list of women luminaries from around the world and from various fields in the IMOW’s virtual exhibition, Muslima: Muslim Women’s Art & Voices, curated by Samina Ali. 

The IMOW is an online museum that showcases art, stories and ideas to celebrate, inspire and advance the lives of women around the world.

“No matter what part of the world these women hail from, not one of these exceptional leaders is limited by her faith or gender. 

“Each uses her identity to overturn conventional roles and blaze an extraordinary path for herself,” said Samina in US online news portal The Huffington Post.

Samina places Zainah first on her list for her role as an SIS founding member, commending on her two decades of efforts in fighting discrimination against women. 

Samina quotes Zainah, who is a columnist with the Sunday Star, as saying: “The Muslim world needs a paradigm shift on how we regard and treat women. 

“If we had been true to the message of the Quran, we really should be at the forefront of the feminist movement today.”

Zarizana, a human rights lawyer and the board chairman of WLUML, who was placed seventh on the list, was praised for her work in the UN working group on discrimination against women in law and practice.
WLUML is an international solidarity network that provides information, support and a collective space for women whose lives are shaped, conditioned or governed by laws and customs in Islam. 

Zarizana was quoted as saying: “Do not accept that women are born to suffer discrimination, inequality and violence. 

“The more you learn the better you will understand how culture and religion have been politicised to justify discrimination and silence women’s voices.”

Zainah and Zarizana are listed together with, among others, Iranian lawyer Dr Shirin Ebadi; the first woman prosecutor-general in Afghanistan, Maria Bashir; Sudanese activist Fahima Hashim and Palestinian artist Laila Shawa.