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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 5 Sept 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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UN Report: Pakistan Tops the List of Countries Having Prejudiced Views Against Women

New Age Islam News Bureau

05 September 2020

 • WARDC Trains Grassroots Women in Lagos, Enugu And Akwa Ibom States on Corrupt Practices

• Ayşe Hümeyra Ökten: Pioneer of Modern Muslim Women

• Saudi Arabia: Missing Hyderabadi Woman Found After 11 Months

• Policies to Empower Pakistani Women

• Bangladesh's First Female Photographer Sayeeda Khanam Passes Away

• Emirati Women Are True Support for Homeland: Mansour Bin Zayed

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



 UN Report: Pakistan Tops the List of Countries Having Prejudiced Views Against Women



Pakistan tops the list of countries having prejudiced views against women, according to a 2020 UN report.

The Gender Social Norms Index report from the UN Development Program (UNDP) shows about 99.81% of people in Pakistan have at least one sexist bias against women.

Qatar and Nigeria follow Pakistan with 99.73%.

As of 2014, 143 out of 195 countries guarantee gender equality in their constitutions but discrimination against women still persists through laws and policies, gender-based stereotypes, social norms, and practices, according to the United Nations.

The UNDP report measured "how social beliefs act as a hindrance to gender equality" in topics like politics, work and education, according to the Economic Times.

The report found Andorra had the least sexist beliefs with 27.1%, followed by Sweden with 30.1% and the Netherlands with 39.75%.

Deutsche Welle reports Pakistan ranks sixth on the list of the world's most dangerous countries for women.

Why is it dangerous for women?

"Women police stations and other facilities are set up in cities while the majority of the violence cases take place in villages," said Mukhtaran Mai, a Pakistani women's rights activist.

Farzana Bari, another women's rights activist, told DW she believes patriarchal attitudes are a systemic issue in Pakistan, that can be improved through education.

"It can be done by educating women in rural areas, empowering them economically and raising their representation in the legislature. If women constitute more than 45% of the population, why should they not have the same representation in the economy, employment and government?"

But according to Gulf News, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and the Pakistan Alliance for Girls Education (PAGE) are partnering to improve girls' education.

The partnership's goal is to focus on innovative program, projects and research methodologies.

They also aim to implement the basic right to education for all children, build more schools, train teachers and improve coordination among departments.


WARDC Trains Grassroots Women In Lagos, Enugu And Akwa Ibom States On Corrupt Practices

05 September 2020


A cross section of grassroots women after the quaterly network meeting organised by WARDC in Enugu


Grassroots women in Lagos, Enugu and Akwa Ibom states have recounted their efforts at eradicating corrupt practices during the COVID-19 lockdown and beyond in their communities.

They identified lack of palliatives, rape, violence against women, widowhood practices and drug abuse as inherent cases that needed urgent attention, which they have made efforts to mitigate.

This was the thrust at a quarterly network meeting of Women Advocates, Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) in partnership with ActionAid Nigeria/United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) in implementing the Strengthening Citizens’ Resistance Against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C) project designed to address corruption through change in social norms and public attitudes that support corruption.

These grassroots women cover various spheres in the society. including market association, Spinal Cord Injury Association, International Federation of Nigerian Women Lawyers, Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN), Enugu chapter, Nigeria Labour Congress, Hair dressers association and Christian women associations. They understand corrupt practices, stand up against this vice and have been able to implement it in their homes, work, and businesses and extend to other women around their locality.

Founding Director, WARDC, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said the project, in the last three years, had seen a reduction in corrupt practices perpetuated at the women associations’ level.

This was so because we relentlessly made efforts to build the capacities of these women, which in turn resulted in change of attitudes that increasingly disapproved corrupt activities.

These associations are now organised to take actions towards resisting corruption and enhancing anti-corruption efforts at their associations and communities’ level.

The project has put in place a Gender and Accountability Anti-Corruption Coalition to strengthen the fight against corruption and bring women at the front burner of the campaign against corruption. We also conducted a national survey on the distribution of palliatives and through this, a national discourse arose for government to be accountable for the money spent on palliatives.

“I am convinced it is a step at eradicating corruption because we can’t fully eradicate it, if we do not involve women in all processes. This is so because women are the highest beneficiaries of the negative impacts of corruption and efforts to eradicate corruption must be inclusive, must target persons across states and across all levels of the society. The project has, therefore, put measures in place in ensuring that rural women and their associations are fully engaged and equipped with the necessary tools to challenge and eradicate corruption.”

Akiyode-Afolabi added that while COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown by the government saw an increase in corrupt practices, women and girls were mostly hit by the lockdown effects, however, the project kept track of the gender-based abuses and measures were taken and are still being taken at ensuring that justice is done and perpetuators are held accountable for their wrongs.

According to SCRAP-C Project Officer and Lawyer at WARDC, Nkechi Obiagbaoso-Udegbunam, the network meeting was targeted at women to embrace a corrupt-free society, by being ambassadors for integrity, honesty and transparency. Hence, these activities were implemented in Lagos, Borno, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Kano, Kaduna and Federal Capital Territory.

She said: “Corruption has eaten into the fabric of the society and it is being perpetrated even at the remotest localities. The organisation, through the project, is trying its best to eradicate corrupt practices through change in attitudes; less will be achieved if all hands are not on deck. Therefore, for us to properly address these gaps, we must start from our homes, communities, associations and ourselves to get it right.”

Obiagbaoso-Udegbunam stressed that more women should desist from corrupt practices and also campaign against social norms that escalate its incidences. Women need to know that the effect of corruption is much felt by them and they are the highest beneficiaries of the negative impacts of corruption in the society.

Beneficiaries of the training over the last three years shared some of the gains. For NLC representative, Nwokeabia Ifeoma, the project has helped her to be bold and confident to speak up about challenging issues. “Recently, I was in a bus park, I saw a woman who was battered by her husband, I intervened. Anyone, who has gone through the trainings organised by WARDC, will be bold enough to stand for justice. It spurred me to distribute palliatives during the total lockdown and also monitored the areas, where palliatives were distributed to ensure those who deserved got them.

“The challenges of women is not being bold enough to come out of their shell, so we want to ensure that more women are bold enough to confront their challenges because a problem shared is a problem solved.”

Chairperson International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Enugu branch, Sylvia Abandi, said the project has taught her accountability which is key when dealing with groups and associations. She however said that widowhood practices, which are still in practice, should stop as it demeans the dignity and respect. While Amina Ali, a representative of the Federation of Muslim Women Association, Enugu chapter, said the project has afforded her the opportunity to educate women especially from her home state, Borno on the essence of family planning and getting basic education.

In Akwa Ibom, Helen Eyebe representing the Anglican Communion Diocese’ of Uyo said that women and girls should be involved in capacity building to help them understand and value their worth. “If a woman does not know her worth, then she cannot know how to handle the vices she encounters. We want to stop the slogan, ‘she is just a woman’, which makes the society demean womanhood. We want to teach our women and girls to have self esteem by teaching them financial security, right to inheritance and ownership of inheritance.”

Eyebe added that in building self-esteem, women should have self-confidence, engage in self-evaluation and assessment to again financial security, which assures independence. “Women should learn how to have control of their money and have access to it instead of allowing the men control and run their account. Women should take charge; they have a right to own properties.

“A lot of women don’t know that they have rights to their properties and even their husband’s properties, men would get their wives to become witnesses to their properties when being purchased, and at the end of the day, these women do not have access to the properties. We need women to understand legal terms when buying properties and ensure that their full names are boldly spelt and imprinted in the ownership space, this guarantees their rights to the properties.”

While Udeme Boniface representing Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, (NAWOJ) Akwa Ibom chapter stressed that women should leave their comfort zone and speak up on corrupt practices, they should stop waiting on their husbands, step up and be a voice for themselves especially on domestic violence. “Women should begin to speak up when there are cases of violence, thankfully, the wife of the Akwa Ibom state governor, Martha Emmanuel, is concerned about the domestic violence and rape related issues, we should report and shame whoever victimizes them, that way this trend will reduce.”


Ayşe Hümeyra Ökten: Pioneer of Modern Muslim Women

SEP 04, 2020


Following her Turkish red Crescent (Kızılay) assignment as a doctor for the hajj, Ayşe Hümeyra Ökten settled in Medina for the rest of her life.


Islam has not been the main social institution for Turkish society for centuries, but it has been one of the major ways of self-expression for individuals. Islam’s resistance against secularism has depended on both aspects. This may be an explanation for why female university students, who had been admitted at secular educational institutions, began to resist the clothing code of such institutions by wearing headscarves in the early 1980s, which remained one of the main conflicts in Turkish politics for decades.

Though headscarf-wearing among educated women rose and was popularized in the 1980s, there were earlier examples of such behavior. Writer and journalist Şule Yüksel Şenler and Dr. Gülsen Ataseven were pioneers of headscarf-wearing among educated women in the 1960s. However, there was an earlier example in the public sphere, namely Dr. Ayşe Hümeyra Ökten, who worked at a public hospital while wearing a headscarf in the 1950s.

Early life

Ayşe Hümeyra Ökten was born in October 1925 in Istanbul's Fatih district. Her father was Mahmut Celalettin Ökten, who was originally from the northern province of Trabzon. He graduated from the Darülmuallimin-i Aliyye (Teachers’ College) and was admitted to the Literature Department of Darülfünun (Istanbul University). He was a friend of the Islamists of the Second Constitutional Era, including mudarris (professor) Ahmet Naim and Mehmet Akif Ersoy, best known as the author of the lyrics of Turkey's national anthem. He became a scholar of Islamic knowledge by receiving private lessons and taught Turkish literature, logics and philosophy at high schools in Istanbul. He founded and administered the first Imam Hatip High School, vocational schools that follow a religion-focused curriculum, in Istanbul. He also taught Islamic theology at the Yüksek Islam Enstitüsü (Higher Institute of Islamic Sciences), which later became the Faculty of Theology.

Ayşe Hümeyra Ökten’s sister was a chemist, while her little brother, Sadettin Ökten, is a famous civil engineer and public intellectual writing about city planning, civilization and the history of Turkish architecture.

Ökten was a brilliant student, while her father Celalettin taught her basic Islamic knowledge, including worship, Islamic history and the life of the Prophet Muhammad. She continued worshipping during school, though it was a problem for the school's administration, and the students were not allowed to worship. Yet, since she was one of the best students in any school where she enrolled, there were always some who supported her right to worship. In fact, an Armenian employee at the School of Medicine used to prepare a secret place for Ökten to practice her Islamic worshipping.

Religious woman doctor

Ökten lived her childhood and youth in Istanbul. She graduated from the Cerrahpaşa School of Medicine in 1949 with high honors. Though her professors encouraged her to stay and teach medicine at the faculty, she chose to work in the field mostly because she wanted to wear her headscarf not only in her private life but while working as well. So, she decided to open a private clinic in Istanbul. She ran clinics in various neighborhoods of Istanbul including Beyoğlu, Sarıyer and Çarşıkapı. Halil Nimetullah Bey, a family friend of the Öktens, defined her as the first-ever religious female doctor with talent in Istanbul. Thanks to her talent and religious manner, people not only from Istanbul but also from Anatolia asked for her services.

Ökten was the first female medical doctor assigned by the Turkish Red Crescent for the hajj worship. She first traveled to Mecca and Medina as part of this duty in 1953. This marked a milestone in her life since she decided to settle in Medina for the rest of her life. Her family didn’t like the decision; however, they agreed to let her live half of the year in Medina and the other half in Istanbul.

Turkish doctor in Hejaz

At the time, Saudi Arabia did not issue settler visas to foreigners. So, Ökten had to wait until 1960 to settle in Medina. Saudi Arabia initiated a special visa for foreign workers, and Ökten applied for and received the visa to work as a medical doctor in Hejaz. She moved to Medina with her father, who would return to Istanbul soon after and die in his homeland.

Ökten’s life in Medina included only two things: treating patients and praying beside al-Rawdha al-Mutahhara (the graveyard of the Prophet Muhammad). She was also a Sufi, an aspect she kept to herself for her whole life because of Sufi ethics.

Ökten lived for six decades next to the Prophet Muhammad’s tomb and masjid. Ökten died on Aug. 30, 2020. Her funeral was held and her body was buried in Medina.


Saudi Arabia: Missing Hyderabadi woman found after 11 months

5th September 2020

By Sameer

Hyderabad: A 23-year-old Hyderabadi woman, Syeda Wajiha Waheed who went missing while performing Umrah in Makkah, Saudi Arabia in October 2019 has been found on 4th September 2020.

As per the details provided by the family members of the woman, she was last seen in Haram Sharif, Makkah, Saudi Arabia on 9th October 2019  at around 8:00  p.m.

Woman contacted family

On 4th September 2020, she contacted her family. Police officials and Indian Embassy were immediately informed about the whereabouts.

Police officials took the woman into custody after finding her in Makkah province.


Cops are investigating the case and Indian Embassy officials are in coordination with them.

Meanwhile, family members of the girl are happy as the woman is in good health condition. They also thanked everyone who stood with them during the hard times and prayed for the safety of the woman.


Policies to empower Pakistani women

Saad Gul


Since International Women’s Day (IWD) began in 1911, much progress has been recorded in women’s political and economic empowerment. The world has witnessed formidable women leaders from Benazir Bhutto – who became the first female leader of Pakistan in 1988 – to Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, who has made history as the only woman to start and run a major commercial airline, Vietjet Aviation. Although we’ve marked major milestones in giving women the same opportunities as men, there’s still much more to be done. Particularly in low income and developing nations.

In Pakistan – where nearly half the country’s population is female – How have we fared since Bhutto’s appointment? There has been little to no progress in unleashing women’s potential – they’ve been unable to contribute to the GDP and still remain elusive to the economy. Although some progress has been recorded in overcoming the persistent challenges of discrimination, gender-based violence and women’s unequal access to resources and decision-making, progress has been painfully slow.

Among the numerous cultural and traditional hurdles that keep women deprived in low income countries, the lack of will from and capacity of policy makers to empower women remains a concern. Additionally, low quality research and weak implementation of pro-women legislation are also serious concerns that impede women’s economic and political empowerment. The way forward?

IMF research suggests in developed economies, when policy makers keenly formulate and promote policies to increase female labour force participation, more women do indeed join the labour force, increasing overall productivity. Given that we can leverage our strengths by prioritizing the agriculture sector, this would be a great starting point.

Moreover, Canada, for instance, observed a significant increase in women’s paid work when it began taxing individuals instead of families. Perhaps Pakistan should approach income taxation from this lens to enhance trust between the state and its citizens. Taxpayers should feel comfortable and confident that the state will deliver results against the tax deductions.

Similarly, for low-income nations, programs aimed at reducing gender gaps in (secondary) education, have catalysed more economic opportunities for women. Pakistan has a huge opportunity because more than half of the population is under the age of thirty. There should be a unanimous, long-term agreement on improving the quality of and access to schools, colleges and universities. Systematic and thorough training, education and capacity building in the agricultural, manufacturing, renewable energy and IT sectors are the need of the hour.

Additionally, other effective fiscal policies, such as improved infrastructure, decreased time spent on unpaid work, while providing more women the access to and choice of entering into paid employment. Investments in roads, introducing new revenue measures, or offering free, high-quality childcare are some note-worthy examples. Governments must not only consider what happens to per capita GDP, but also how these policies can reduce income and gender inequality.

Backed by the law and the Judiciary, these policies require implementation in order to create an enabling environment for women. Ranging from poor – to lack there-of – of legislation preventing sexual harassment in public places or at work, to discrimination in policies related to social security and protection, and inequities in pay for work of equal value, there are numerous legal challenges that women face.

In order to achieve gender parity in Pakistan, we will have to start implementing dynamic, gender-sensitive fiscal policies, run awareness campaigns around gender-biased social norms to empower women in the country. Last but not the least, we will have to unlearn conventional approaches to basic rights for women and replace them with newer belief systems, values, traditions, laws and policies.

Our cultural and patriarchal societal structure cuts through these politically correct ideals. However, this is exactly why we must challenge these preconceived notions of suppressing women financially and politically just like the Chinese (Qing Dynasty) did in the early 1900’s.

Saad Gul is an Islamabad based writer and entrepreneur. He can be reached at


Bangladesh's first female photographer Sayeeda Khanam passes away

August 18th, 2020

In 1956, she started her career as a photojournalist in Begum

Sayeeda Khanam, the first female professional photographer of Bangladesh, passed away in Dhaka early Tuesday.

She was 83.

The photographer, who had been suffering from old age complications, breathed her last at her residence in Banani around 3am.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed deep shock and sorrow at the death of Sayeeda Khanam.

In a condolence message, the premier said Sayeeda Khanam will live forever in the heart of people through her works.

Sheikh Hasina prayed for eternal salvation of the departed soul and expressed sympathy to the bereaved family.

KM Khalid, state minister for cultural affairs, also expressed deep shock and sorrow at the demise of the famed photographer.

Born on December 29, 1937 in Pabna, Sayeeda Khanam completed her masters in Bengali literature and Library Science from the Dhaka University.

Being inspired to pursue photography from her aunt poet Mahmuda Khatun Siddique, she started photography at the age of only 13.

In 1956, she started her career as a photojournalist in Begum, the only newspaper dedicated to women at that time. Her photographs were published in many national and international newspapers including the Observer, Morning News, and Ittefaq. She also captured many important events of the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971.

She covered many national and international events. She worked as a photographer with renowned filmmaker Satyajit Ray in three of his films.

Khanam worked as a librarian in seminar library of Bengali Literature Department of the Dhaka University from 1974 to 1986.

After the war, she volunteered as a nurse in Holy Family Hospital for a while.

Khanam had her first international exhibition in 1956 after participating in the International Photo and Cinema Exhibition, Cologne.

In the same year, her works were displayed in an international photography exhibition held in Dhaka and later exhibited in international competitions in Japan, France, Sweden, Pakistan, and Cyprus.

Her works on Mother Teresa, Rabindra Sangeet singer Konika Bandopadhaya, and Satyajit Ray were also exhibited in Dhaka.

In 1960, she received an award in All Pakistan Photo Contest and in 1985 she was honored with Unesco Award for photography.

She received many other awards from several national and international organizations and was a lifetime member of Bangladesh Mahila Samity and Bangla Academy.


Emirati women are true support for homeland: Mansour Bin Zayed

August 28, 2020

ABU DHABI — Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, deputy prime minister and minister of presidential affairs, has stated that Emirati women, thanks to Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, chairwoman of the General Women's Union (GWU), president of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF), are true support for the homeland and key partners in building the country's future, which is preparing for the next 50 years of its history.

In a statement, he made to mark Emirati Women’s Day, Sheikh Mansour said, "On this day when our country is marking Emirati Women's Day, we extend greetings and congratulations to Sheikha Fatima "Mother of the Nation" whose efforts resulted in providing care to women, their social and financial well-being, constitutional protection of their rights, political empowerment, full participation in decision-making and accomplishing achievements.

“Thanks to these efforts, Emirati women today represent true support for the nation and key partners in building the future of the country while preparing to the next 50 years of its history."

"Every year, Aug. 28 is the day on which we salute the Emirati mothers, sisters, daughters, housewives and mothers of martyrs. On this day we glorify their roles in all walks of life and domains where they are full partners to men with competence, excellence and success," he added.

Sheikh Mansour said, "On this day, that coincides with the 45 anniversary of establishing the GWU, we appreciate and pray to Allah Almighty to rest the soul of the Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in Paradise as he said, 'Nothing pleases me more than seeing women playing their distinguished role in society.'"

He noted, ''Now, women are on the frontlines and playing their role in society thanks to the unstinted support and care from President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president, prime minister and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the Supreme Council members, rulers of the Emirates."

''Emirati women will always be the pillar of stability and solidarity, together, we will work to place our country among the top 25 countries on the Gender Balance Index by 2021 to achieve the UAE Vision 2021. We greet Emirati women in their day under the logo, 'Planning for the next 50 years ...Women are the support of the homeland.'" he said. — WAM




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