During a press conference in New York City on Wednesday, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation reaffirmed its belief that women’s rights are an integral part of Islamic rights and urged the Taliban to make good on their pledge to protect women’s rights by revoking their ban on secondary and tertiary education for girls.
During a day-long “Women in Islam” conference at the UN headquarters in New York to celebrate International Women’s Day, officials and heads of international organizations urged Western media outlets to address negative stereotypes in their coverage of Muslim women. On the other hand, an Emirati official established causality between religious extremism and hostility toward Islam.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari of Pakistan, whose country is currently holding the rotating chair of the OIC, told Arab News that the conference’s overarching theme was the unfortunate situation in Afghanistan. “Everyone expressed their displeasure and disappointment that women in Afghanistan have not only been deprived of their rights but the interim government has not yet lived up to its promises to allow access to education,” he said.
Using Islam to justify their treatment of women is especially disappointing, he said.
“All countries within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation are unanimous that this has nothing to do with Islam, that this is alien to the concept of Islam, and the first word of the Holy Qur’an is ‘Read,’ and we continue to press the interim government to in Afghanistan to live up to their promises and grant women their right to education,” Bhutto Zardari said.
Marwan Ali Noman Aldobhany, Yemen’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, made the comparison between the Taliban and the Houthi militia in Yemen, which is backed by Iran, in their denial of women’s political, economic, and social rights.
He claimed that women were severely restricted from traveling between cities and that gender segregation was widespread in schools and other institutions under Houthi control.
Aldobhany claimed that militias regularly kidnap and falsely accuse hundreds of Yemeni women of criminal activity before locking them up in secret facilities. The political activity of these people is being used as justification for the torture, sexual assault, and exploitation they endure.
These acts have “no connection to Islam,” he emphasized, and he urged UN members to condemn them.
“societies prosper, nations progress when women are at the heart of progress,” Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, UK minister of state for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and the UN at the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, and prime minister’s special representative for preventing sexual violence in conflict, said at the conference.
The economic cost of excluding women and girls from political, economic, educational, and social spaces was described as “stark,” and he lamented the “untold challenges” women and girls face around the world.
He also noted that “the cost to our global society is harder to measure but just as troubling,” suggesting that it should be a priority for all of us as we go about our global work.
As the Taliban continue to deny women’s rights, Lord Ahmad has unified the world in asking, “What are you doing?” to the Taliban. What we have here is not Islam.
Noura Al-Kaabi, minister of state for the United Arab Emirates, has said that women and girls all over the world face discrimination, have decisions made for them, and are routinely excluded because of their gender.
She emphasized that the problem is not limited to any one group of people or any one faith. It’s a worldwide pandemic, they say.
However, Al-Kaabi argued that misrepresentation, misinterpretation, and misunderstanding of Islam contribute to the discrimination faced by Muslim women.
She went on to say that Islamophobia and extremism are two sides of the same coin.
Extremism, Al-Kaabi argues, warps Islam to legitimize sexism and other forms of discrimination against women and girls. The plight of Muslim women and Islam are used as pawns in the cynical campaign to demonize and “otherize” Islam and Muslims, as stated in the article.
She blasted the Taliban for their abuse of Afghan women and girls and called on the member states of the United Nations to reject any attempt to legitimize the twisted interpretation of Islam that is used to justify such discrimination.
It was called for by May Jasem Mohammed Al-Baghly, minister of social affairs and community development and minister of state for women and children’s affairs in Kuwait, who noted that in Islam, men and women are considered equal.
According to the Qur’an, “We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another,” she said.
Jordan has the second largest refugee population in the world, and its minister of social development, Wafa Bani Mustafa, has said that her country places special emphasis on women refugees, “guaranteeing them a dignified life on the basis of the humanist messages of Islam and the moral values of all Jordanian people.”
Jordan has taken steps to strengthen its Shariah-based legislative framework, especially in civil affairs, Mustafa said, and women in Jordan enjoy all necessary legal protections in marriage, divorce, and education.
Amal Hamad, the Palestinian minister for women’s affairs, recently spoke about the plight of Palestinian women under Israeli occupation and the measures taken by the Palestinian government to combat discrimination based on gender. Among these measures is the expansion of access to financial services for women, which is intended to help them become economically self-sufficient.
Assistant Foreign Minister Lolwah Al-Khader of Qatar has stated that women are referred to as “the twin halves of men” in the Qur’an.
The issue of women has evolved from a just cause to a divisive political issue, she continued, and “the question of woman is one which should be answered beyond politics.”
According to Al-Khader, problems that women face are universal.
As she put it, “every day women face discrimination, violence, and a glass ceiling” because of their gender.
And for Muslim women, whose struggles are “constantly politicized at every juncture,” she added, things are even worse.
Al-Khader lamented the “unchecked rise of Islamophobia as a phenomenon and discourse culminating over the past few decades to embed itself in popular national narratives” in the modern world.
Muslim women “feel the effects of these escalations more keenly than others” because they are “more vulnerable to discrimination and hate crimes” because of their gender, religion, and/or ethnicity.
Oman’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Mohammed Al-Hassan, said that despite Islamophobic campaigns, the message of Islam remains a timeless monotheistic message that honors the worth of every person, regardless of gender. He pleaded with the international community to help safeguard the rights of women everywhere, but especially in Afghanistan.
‘We reject any association between the situation in Afghanistan and the perception of Islam,’ he said, adding that “the situation in Afghanistan is not representative of Islam or Muslims in general.