Muslim Woman Empowerment Program

Woman is Development

(Book your training session for the use of this Woman Empowerment Program)

UN has proposed several programs to empower Woman. UN started with WID, followed by WAD, and now working on GAD.

WID Woman in Development WAD Woman and Development GAD Gender and Development

In this article, a new program is proposed.

WISD woman is Development
Table of Content
  1. Introduction. 3
  2. RGB for Poverty Reduction, Access to Education & Justice. 4
  3. Colonization and Inequity from a Muslim Eastern Perspective – Paradigm Shift 4
  4. Indigenous Epistemologies as Documented Resources for Formation of the Development Agenda. 5
  5. The Program Groups – Stakeholders. 5
  6. Definition of Gender 8
  7. WID WAD GAD.. 9
  8. Top – Down Adaptative Approaches. 9
  9. References. 10
Introduction (page 3)
  • How was Muslim Women Disempowered ?
  • What is the Way Back to Empowerment ?

The status of Muslim Women within the international development agenda is vulnerable. Muslim Women (MW), are exploited as post-colonized females with an inferior status of gendering by the western views of women, without any of the privileges accompanying that status for white bourgeois women (Eva, Rathgeber, 1990). As an Eastern Woman, MW are downgraded by “gendered orientalism” western approach (Samiei, 2010). Also, as an “othered Muslim”, MW are marginalized by European & US Neo-colonization Political Systems (EUNCSPS) (Raja, 2016). EUNCSPS Agenda blatantly subordinated MW after the:

  • dissolution of Ottomans after WWI
  • planting of Israel in the Middle East (Hawari, 2019)
  • Islamophobia propaganda preceded 9/11 attacks in the name of War on Terror (Armstrong, 2000)

All these, made and are still making the global position of Muslim Women on the development agenda debilitated.

For MW and all marginalized women to be empowered, and become active contributors to development, three major aspects of participation are required to be “easternized”:

  1. The use of eastern legislated epistemologies to fund for Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) programs, to assuring women security, elevation of poverty, and providing accesses for justice, education, and employment.
  2. Rearrangement of an infrastructure, that redefines the history of Western Colonization to the Muslim world from an Eastern Perspective. This program is shall be led through social entrepreneurs, who will develop with time a public opinion, which creates a Paradigm Shift that feeds Policy Making. The shift will  mainly feed the Muslim Concept of humans differentiation that is based on “piety”, rather than the western dichotomous differentiation of man / woman, superior / inferior, rational / irrational, primitive / civilized, & traditional / modern etc.
  3. Restoring the MW global image, through documenting historical successes achieved by Muslim Indigenous Women since the 7th century. The restored image of Muslim Woman will consequently be used to rewrite the women development agenda, in cooperation with UNDP, HRW and associated national / international NGO’s. Consequential creation of official documentation of these achievements, that complies with western methods of documentation, will give access to official resources to be used as academic resources in western educational institutions.
RGB for Poverty Reduction, Access to Education & Justice (page 4)

Budgeting women empowerment (WE) is a complex political scenario (Connell, 2009). At the same time when WE can be a source of satisfaction, recognition, and identity, it can as well be a source of injustice and harm. In the Muslim World, to successfully approve RGB’s for WE, two main problems must be solved:

1- Approach WE as a Human Right (HR) not as a gender empowerment (GE). GE includes MW with the LGBTQI minorities, a situation that will create a cultural clash between the west and the 1.9 billion Muslims. From this perspective, also LGBTQI can be better justified socially if approached as a HR. This shift in social views will unite more people at a humanitarian level.

2- Work on MW empowerment through the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) 1, 2, 4, 8, 10, 11 and 16, but not 5. This is because Muslim Legislations are heteronormative, with some tolerance to medically approved transgendered cases. In this regard, transgenders may as well be unjustified when approached as a “gender” rather than a “humanitarian need” that is tolerated among most cultures around the world.

Once the WE program is defined as above, financing the cost becomes honored by eastern cultures and political systems. Governmental empowerment funds, corporate social responsibility programs funds, and Philanthropy Zakat funds (Grant, 2014) become available to be used for a justified cause. Governmental and private development agencies and Muslim Philanthropy agencies cooperate at an international level, and across borders, thus these monies are already being paid to fund national and international social developmental projects, the only change that will happen is to pay these monies for a more international empowering program, that widens educational horizons, and increases international acceptance and tolerance. Specifically, theses funds will contribute indirectly to end poverty and give access to justice and education to Muslim Women in particular and all marginalized women in general.

Colonization and Inequity from a Muslim Eastern Perspective – Paradigm Shift (page 4)

Colonization and Inequity from a Muslim Eastern Perspective – Paradigm Shift

The Cause and Effect …

A perceptive survey of the period 1955-1967 by Fawaz Gerges concludes: “the superpowers were rarely able to impose their will on the smaller states of the Middle East, except by planting a hand for them in the heart of the Middle East” Jo Biden explains here.

To achieve that, western hegemonic powers recruited aligned Middle Eastern Regimes to facilitate the required diplomatic support, economic aid, and the supply of arms. Planting Israel as a political seismic epicenter to monitor and shake the eastern civilization was the tool . Mini post-colonial epicenters left behind in every colonized Muslim country, casting dark shadow that led to creating Islamic fundamentalists groups funded by the west al around the Muslim world (McDonnell, 2010). That was the cause.

The effect is deterioration of Islamic Civilization and creation of Islamic Fundamentalism. The Islamic fundamentalists groups in Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi with orientalists promoting social/religious “corrections” in the east, under the rule of western aligned controlling regimes World (McDonnell, 2010), all these causes factored for dichotomous inequities, gender discrimination, and loss of image and position for Islamic individuals, particularly in woman.

Colonization for power under the cover of religion started with the western story that marketed the Israeli State as a religious right to the Jewish people . That was the beginning of fundamentalism, which later led to fundamentalism of religions (McDonnell, 2010). The worst to be harmed by this was the Muslim Woman, who became distorted as a flower to her male family superiors.

The Solution

The current marginalized Muslims / Arabs are have many strengths to rise from. They are equipped with:

  1. strategic geographic location in the center of the world that facilitates optimal social, economic and political communication
  2. economic environmental powers as, owners of most fertile lands as in Egypt, Iraq, Sudan, MENA & the LEVANT
  3. founders of OAPEC, one of the biggest entities of oil exports started by Kuwait, Libya and Saudi Arabia (Kenton, 2019), and
  4. possessors of past academic wealth/present human resources, that owns development to Medieval Europe and subsequent USA, including development of all disciplines of Latin philosophy, psychology and metaphysics. Which also owns technological & scientific innovations via the Silk Road, including Chinese inventions such as paper & gunpowder (Hasse, 2008).
  5. A justice system and balanced social balanced regulations that are inclusive to all religions, nations and ethnic minorities around the world.

These factors, where why the middle east was chosen to plant in Israel. And the creation of Israel started game of power in WWI, WWII, Arab-Israeli Wars, Gulf War, then War on Terror (Shlaim, 1996). This was as well the cause of the creation of Islamophobia notion.

Accordingly, the paradigm Shift, will emphasise the strengths of the Islamic World past and present, and will restore and international new image of the Muslim Communities around the world.

Indigenous Epistemologies as Documented Resources for Formation of the Development Agenda (page 5)

An inclusive community program, will be designed to empower women via the three pillars of good practice in participatory rural appraisal (PRA), which are: (sharing and partnership), (methods), and (behavior and attitudes),. These three pillars will be the core of the societal mobilization tool as suggested by (Kyegombe, Starmann, Devries,  Michau, Nakuti, Musuya, Heise 2014), to map relational communication at individual, groups, and leadership levels. This tool of communication will then become pioneering step to salvage the current vulnerable position of the MW in particular and all marginalised women in general. Figure 3 exhibits a suggested mobilization tool to use for cross community communication for the program working groups identified below.

Critical Mass Communication for Empowerment Programs
(Kyegombe, Starmann, Devries,  Michau, Nakuti, Musuya, Heise 2014)
The Program Groups – Stakeholders (page 5)
  1. Governance & Leadership Group – (Diverse Leadership)
    • Governments authorities’ representatives and constitution advisors
    • Policy makers
    • NGO activists (ex. UNPD)
    • Community Leaders representatives
    • Research & Development specialists
  2. Planning Group – (Participatory Platforms)
    • Financial Controllers
    • Law and Order specialists (to assure legality of actions and advice of recommendations for law amendments)
    • Educational and Academic Specialists
    • Research and Development Specialists
    • Telecommunication and Media Specialists
    • Research & Development Survey Designers and spatial analysists
  3. Executives of Implementation – (Community Activities)
    • Teachers (Schools and Universities)
    • Celebrities
    • Indigenous Leaders / Religion Scholars for Social regulations and spirituality rights
    • University and Schools Students
    • Social Media Influencers
    • Documentary Specialists
    • Research & Development Survey Performers

With cross cultural – cross borders training and participation, western dominance will be abolished as a result rather than as a challenge (Ngugi, 2018). WE become an outcome of “decolonizing the mind” of materialistic and preset hegemonic secular western approaches. Consequently, ideologies as ‘West-and-Islam’ dualism and the ‘Others are less human’ (Said, 1978) become obsolete. The restored MW image will yield a conceptualized new self, and a more safe place to live in for all nations.

At a global level, compliance to the UNSCR 1325 article (the security council resolution that was released ten years ago to end the systematic, brutal and widespread practice of violence against women and girls in armed conflict), the suggested program for WE can be announced as a step of action rather than verbal resolutions, that socially based, to empower develop an educated individual with increased representation of women as a contributor tote development agenda and at all decision-making levels in national, regional, and international institutions.

A Bottom – Up approach of development in which the suppressed is herad.

Theory of Change, and Program logic associated with the suggested WE program are demonstrated in Figures 1 and 2 respectively.

Theory of Change
Program Logic

Anticipated results will be a leap from the western image of MW as vulnerable, disempowered, uneducated, oppressed woman to a participatory woman who is involved in political, educational, economic and social development. Resulting in a woman who is a resource for a better future for an interdependent world.

These Muslim women existed before feminism even began in the West. They’ve taught me I can be a feminist and a Muslim woman and empowered and so many other things, because so many Muslim women before me have been” (Khan, 2019).

The program can as well be globally shared to instill WE all around the world from within existing indigenous communities.

“tribes thought that the primary potency in the universe was female, and that understanding authorizes all tribal activities” (anonymous)

On the Margins of the Program …

The most recent approach of woman empowerment, the GAD, which depends on defining gender as a choice of social identity, can be revaluated and revised. Also, the progressive change in the UN programs of development, from WID to WAD to GAD can be criticised for failure to achieve results im WE. Moreover, the Top–own adaptation of practices into development become a secondary item in creating the development agenda , because items on the agenda will evolve as results of the traditions, customs and practices of people in need of development. Accordingly, the three major factors of development become minor. These factors are:

Definition of Gender (page 8)

Introducing Gender Definition (Connell, 2009), with emphasis on separating sex from gender, is a problematic approach. Defining gender as a non-dichotomous component of social development, contradicts, if not hostile cultural diversities and values of many major communities around the world. The three monotheistic religions oppose the approach (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). This western approach, as described by (Harcourt 2016), has been implemented around the world in environments that couldn’t comprehend “the development grasp” in them. The approach failed to reflect a shining image of development; and is associated with production of colonization byproducts. Women undermined rights and shadowed existence were few of those byproducts, not mentioning the abuse of women as sex tools and money generating commercial factors for economic hegemony.

Also, gender and not sex, is like any other western democratization, it runs the risk of acting as a neo-imperialist force rather, than a vehicle of justice and human rights. Minorities and women’s rights, as politicized by the US &  other western actors, have become a site of cultural politics, which gave rise to hypocritical standards, distrust, and a lack of progress (Escobar, 1995) & (Armstrong, 2000). Gender to replace sex is a western structured power fight over control of “the four basic areas of human existence: sex, labor, collective authority and subjectivity/intersubjectivity (Quijano 2001).

WID WAD GAD (page 8)

 The efforts to maintain strong divisions among men and women, among gendered minorities and cultural communities are themselves convincing evidence that boundaries are non-stable (Connell, 2009). When the Eastern, Muslim / Arab international development practitioners claim gender is colonial, they do not mean to exclude gendered minorities, however, they claim that present gender systems are products of historical colonization that is also involved in innovations and modifications of many indigenous arrangements (Rathgeber, 1990). Such innovations of inequalities as demonstrated by (HU, 2014) do not work. For example, Women rights in the US are major channels of democracy, but when the matter conflicts with US military and economic interests in the Muslim world, the US often abandons its commitment to the issue. Several inconsistent stances and exclusive approaches to women’s rights has undermined its international legitimacy as an equality approach.

Also, the progressive change from the 7 Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) (Kumar, Kumar, Vivekadhish, 2016) founded in 2000, to 17 SDG’s reconstructed in 2015 (Neshovski, 2020), accompanied with the failure to meet desired expectations up to date (Ortiz-Ospina & Molteni, 2017), make us as development practitioners pause and think; where is humanity heading? What is the world’s governance system supporting when moving from WID to WAD to GAD? (Ortiz-Ospina & Molteni, 2017), why not consider other options that are supported by historical success?

Top – Down Adaptive Approaches (page 5)

The Challenges of incorporating Muslim Women’s views into the development agenda cannot be achieved through top-down approach (Bartelink, Buitelaar, 2006). For example, when the Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation, Jan Pronk, declared ‘autonomy’ as the focus of his development policy, to empower women in Yemen, given the assumed subordinate position of women in those societies, his mission failed. The Dutch government took the decision to withdraw funding and close the center. Even after the closure, media continued to state that the so-called ‘genderists’ had come to Yemen to undermine its Islamic morality and traditions (Bartelink, Buitelaar, 2006), neglecting centuries of progress of a leading civilization that established social equity and justice. .

Moreover, western top down development strategies consider religious propositions a delaying context to development, yet religious education in the eastern / Muslim communities is considered an essential strategy for progress (Offenhauer,2005). The contradictory western understanding of the role of religion in society, and the failure to analyses the ways in which different discourses on Islam are socio-economically and politically embedded, explains why outcomes of the western development do not meet its empowering goals.

In conclusion, there is an obvious need for change as agreed by UN vision for 2030 represented in SDG’s, although the world is not on track . If this is the situation, then a possible solution that comes from a non western approach gives hope and sounds promising. So are Indigenous epistemologies, that inform reality based on accumulated philosophical, set of metaphysical beliefs, assumptions, concepts, values, and religions (Kovach, 2009).

The cause of women’s oppression around the world is horribly simple as stated by (Jeffreys, 2008): men want their power, and, for that reason, they will keep women in a state of subordination to maintain it . Alongside with that, there are times when pushing a women’s participation agenda, in such “masculine” context, would run counter to the required outcome (Close, 2018). Maintaining western hegemony through innovations of political – social paradigm shifts, require empowerment of the marginalized and exploited individuals rather than subordinating them (Sanderock 1995). This empowerment requires to instill more skills as the “art of listening”, and emotional intelligence parallel to cognitive scientific thinking to replace oppressions by military powers and economic control in a so called Top-Down Approach of development. A new scientific / spiritual approach, through which diversities, cultures, and sounds from borderlines are recorded, measured, sorted, and framed is immensely required in our current time. “A new scientific / spiritual approach though with a new humanitarian image, set of values, new stories and symbols of non-textual artistic mediums, will definitely connect the different poles of the planet, forming new consciousness (Anzaldua, 1978)”.

Woman when non politically empowered, can balance out politics and achieve peace. Woman id Development indeed. WISD it is …

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