A Regional Youth Caucus Meeting organised by Sisters in Islam today, brought together an exciting group of 44 youth leaders from five countries, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia.
This Meeting aims to analyse and offer actionable solutions for the myriad challenges faced by Muslim women through the lens of a compassionate and just Islam.
Keynote speaker, Dr.Hannah Nazri, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Kalsom Movement in her opening address highlighted access to education as a primary means of female empowerment and conversely, also, of controlling and terrorising women and girls.
While most of South East Asia’s Muslim women and girls don’t face such survival challenges such as Nigeria’s 2014 Boko Haram kidnappings for sexual and domestic slavery, Dr.Hannah pointed to Malaysia’s troubling child marriage statistics for Muslims, over 10,000 such legalised paedophilic unions between 2007-2017 alone.
Critically, child marriage cuts off a girl’s fundamental rights to education, economic participation and advocating for herself throughout her lifetime.
On the other side of the spectrum, reproductive healthcare is a crucial arena where extremism causes female Muslim bodies to suffer.
Dr.Hannah shared that endometriosis awareness in Malaysia is troublingly low despite 81% of Malaysian women polled saying that period pains affected their ability to work. Indeed, learning how women’s rights have been marginalised through a medical perspective is key to addressing the structural inequalities of patriarchal Islam.
SIS Advocacy, Legal Services and Research Manager, Shareena Sheriff’s welcoming address served to remind the youth leaders of their role in advocating and furthering an Islam true to its principles of upholding justice for all. Her proclamation of this Caucus Meeting as a safe space for engagement and expressing views was warmly welcomed by the delegates.