For Muslim Women, Education and Economic Empowerment Are Keys to a Better Life

March 5, 2007

Author: Margaret Besheer

Source: VOA News

International Women's Day Thursday highlights women's struggle for equality, justice, peace and development. For many it is a day to celebrate progress. For others, it is a reminder of just how far they still must travel. VOA's Margaret Besheer reports that, positive changes affecting women in the Islamic world are coming slowly, but steadily.

The principle of equality between men and women is deeply rooted in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad was known for his equal treatment of the sexes. He required that a dowry be paid directly to a bride, rather than to her father or guardian, and he offered special protection to widows and orphans.

Mishkat al-Moumin, a scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington, says that has interpretation has changed.

"Later on, when Prophet Muhammad died, and so many other interpretations came to exist, again, it goes back to controlling society," said Al-Moumin. "If you want to control society, if you want to control families, then you control women."

Today, Muslim women are working to break free of restrictions. Al-Moumin says economic and social empowerment are the keys to women's advancement in the Islamic world.