Zainah Anwar will speak on the necessity and possibility of reform in the way Islam is understood and used as a source of law and public policy in Muslim contexts. From Sisters in Islam in Malaysia and its ground-breaking work at the national level to Musawah, the global movement for equality and justice, Muslim women activists today are at the forefront in challenging the use of Islam to justify continued discrimination against women and violations of fundamental liberties. They are producing new feminist knowledge, combining Islamic principles, human rights, constitutional guarantees of equality and non-discrimination, and women's lived realities to break the constructed binary between Islam and human rights, and the disconnect between law and reality. They are publicly challenging traditional religious authorities with alternative understandings of Islam in ways that take into consideration changing times and context. Anwar will share the experience of Sisters in Islam and the global movement it initiated, their work and challenges, and the resulting public contestations and hope for change.
About the Speaker:
Zainah Anwar is currently a visiting Social Entrepreneur in Residence at Stanford for fall 2012 through CDDRL’s Program on Social Entrepreneurship. Anwar is a founding member of Sisters in Islam (SIS) and currently the director of Musawah based in Malaysia, the global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family. She is at the forefront of the women’s movement pushing for an end to the use of Islam to justify discrimination against women. The pioneering work of SIS in understanding Islam from a rights perspective and creating an alternative public voice of Muslim women demanding equality and justice led it to initiate Musawah in 2009. This knowledge-building movement brings together activists and scholars to create new feminist knowledge in Islam to break the binary between Islam and human rights and the disconnect between law and reality.
Anwar also writes a monthly newspaper column on politics, religion and women’s rights, called Sharing the Nation. She is a former member of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia. Her book, Islamic Revivalism in Malaysia: Dakwah Among the Students, has become a standard reference in the study of Islam in Malaysia.