Jamaat- E- Islami Hind, Women’s Wing Vasco organised a special event titled “Women’s Liberation – A Myth or Reality?” on 8th March 2014 at Hotel La-Paz Gardens.
There are whole rake of questions thrown up by the issue of women’s liberation, among the mainstream press the big issue is has women’s liberation being achieved? Are we in a ‘Post-feminist world’? All the major religions say that men and women have the same essential nature. Yet in practice these religions are dominated by men.
In this respectful gathering Mrs Sarojini Antao e D’Souza, retired headmistress of Our Lady of Perpetual Sucoor high school, Mrs Sandhya M. Bhandari Sequeira, a Professor in M.E.S College of Arts and Commerce and Mrs Shaheen Khan, Co-ordinator of Jamaat Islami Hind, Women’s Wing Mapusa were invited to deliver their views on the topic.
The event started in the name of Allah- The most Beneficent and Merciful. Mrs Ruksana Memon conveyed to the audience words of wisdom from the Quran. Modern woman is everywhere regarded as capital for exploitation said Mrs Shahista Shah, Incharge of Women’s Wing Vasco Unit- Jamaat-E-Islami Hind in her inaugural address and raised few questions such as t “Is it enough to spend one day of Women’s day celebration?” “Why is there so much of women exploitation even after their major contribution to the society?” She highlighted the main aim of the event as questioning the the reality of Women’s Liberation.
The issue of women liberation is the most important and volatile one in this world. According to Mrs Sarojini Antao e D’Souza, God designed women to go as high as success takes us. One must never be discouraged with criticism and negative thoughts. As women one should not allow society to limit our boundaries or discourage us to ignore our dreams. She spoke about internalised aggression present in the women. Let the women not put themselves down and club together to support one another. Women’s liberation cannot work in parts. If women have to be liberated so the men have to be liberated too, then the society needs to be liberated also. Women liberation is a gradual and complicated process. Mrs D’Souza says “Women are not the weaker sex; even nature conspires to help us to be successful. We live content in our little world that we tend to kill all our potentials when we are content.” She even spoke about scientific reasons- women have lower blood pressure, less likely to suffer from alcoholism, women live longer than men. God has given women longer life expectancy. Talking about the place of women in the constitution she says, “The principle of gender inequality is enshrined in the constitution.” One must make use of the national and government policies provided to the women in enhancing oneself.
A central goal of women’s liberation is that responsibility for family care … be shared more equally between men and women and individuals, families and society as a whole. Responsibility for health care is a major part of this burden of family care that feminism is fighting to share more equally.
Mrs. Sandhya M. Bhandari Sequeira answers the question, “Is the women free? No, Infact they are doubly exploited and burdened.” Today the plight of women is worse. A woman is the best mother, wife, doctor, teacher, officer, etc. she has to prove herself every time and has to give in more and more but nobody cares about her. Woman according to the western concept is the angel of the house. But in India according to Mrs. Bhandari, “Sab Chalta hai…here a woman eats to live whereas others live to eat.” Today a husband is blessed because his woman is empowered. The creator has made men and women to supplement and complement one another. The society is said to be male-dominated. One’s mind thinks that the men are superior. But if men have muscle power, women have the will power. Women bear the children. “A woman is responsible for the creation and the continuity of life on earth. Women must only change their attitudes and one can only change it by working together. They have to speak out and stand up against injustice against women and girls and that’s the way one can be liberated, she said.
Today people think that women are liberated in the West and that the Women’s liberation movement began in the 20th century. Actually, the women’s liberation movement was not begun by women but was revealed by God to a man in the seventh century by the name of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), who is known as the last Prophet for mankind. The Qur’an and the Traditions of the Prophet are the sources from which every Muslim woman derives her rights and duties. said Mrs. Shaheen Khan, one of the speakers, whilst sharing her take on Women’s Liberation through Islam. According to the Human Rights, Islam fourteen centuries ago, made women equally accountable to God in glorifying and worshipping Him – setting no limits on her progress. Also, Islam established a woman’s equality in her humanity with men, In the Qur’an, in the first verse of the chapter entitled “Women”, God says,
“O mankind! Be careful of your duty toward your Lord who created you from a single soul and from it its mate and from them both have spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom you claim (your rights) of one another, and towards the wombs (that bore you). Lo! Allah has been a Watcher over you.” (4:1)
Since men and women both came from the same essence, they are equal in their humanity. But today woman have become a sex commodity and is not safe anymore in her own house. Women from protective zone are now in a dangerous zone. According to Mrs Khan, Women are men’s weakness. Men and women are like two magnetic poles. It is a fact. She says that human psychology should be kept in mind before searching for a solution. “Divine Guidance is the first solution” says Mrs Khan. God created everything. Human beings should live like humans and this is possible only if they implement divine guidance, understand it and implement it in our lives.
While bearing, raising and teaching of children, providing support to her husband, and maintenance of a home are among the first and very highly regarded roles for a woman, if she has the skills to work outside the home for the good of the community, she may do so as long as her family obligations are met. Islam recognizes and fosters the natural differences between men and women despite their equality. Some types of work are more suitable for men and other types for women. This in no way diminishes either’s efforts or benefits. God will reward both sexes equally for the value of their work, though; it may not necessarily be the same activity. Concerning motherhood, the Prophet(S) said, “Heaven lies under the feet of mothers”. This implies that the success of a society can be traced to the mothers who raised it. The first and greatest influence on a person comes from the sense of security, affection, and training received from the mother. Mrs Khan shared more knowledge of Quran by speaking about political, economic rights of a woman and rights of a wife.
Talking about political rights in Quran, a right given to women by God 1400 years ago is the right to vote. On any public matter, a woman may voice her opinion and participate in politics. One example, as narrated in the Qur’an (60:12), Muhammad(S) is told that when the believing women come to him and swear their allegiance to Islam, he must accept their oath. This established the right of women to select their leader and publicly declare so. Finally, Islam does not forbid a woman from holding important positions in government. The economic rights convey in the Quran that women have the privilege to earn money, the right to own property, to enter into legal contracts and to manage all of her assets in any way she pleases. She can run her own business and no one has any claim on her earnings, including her husband. Mrs Khan highlights the rights of a wife and her duties mentioned in the Quran for women. Clothing provides physical protection and covers the beauty and faults of the body. Likewise, a spouse is viewed this way. Each protects the other and hides the faults and compliments the characteristics of the spouse. To foster the love and security that comes with marriage, wives have various rights. The first of the wife’s rights is to receive mahr, a gift from the husband, which is part of the marriage contract and required for the legality of the marriage. The second right of a wife is maintenance. Despite any wealth she may have, her husband is obligated to provide her with food, shelter and clothing. He is not forced, however, to spend beyond his capability and his wife is not entitled to make unreasonable demands.
The Qur’an states:
“And it becomes not a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger, Muhammad (S) have decided on an affair (for them), that they should (after that) claim any say in their affair; and whoso is rebellious to Allah and His Messenger, he verily goes astray in error manifest,” (33:36)
The woman was given a role, duties and rights 1400 years ago that most women do not enjoy today, even in the West. These are from God and are designed to keep balance in society; what may seem unjust or missing in one place is compensated for or explained in another place. Men and women are equal but we are not same. Hence Mrs Shaheen Khan concludes, “Whatever career we choose, we must always think of that we are women..who shouldn’t lose our dignity. The society is made by both men and women so we must know our limits.”
The event ended on a positive note that gave a message to women that they need to very much protect the individual rights and individual freedoms, those however should not be at the expense of the social fabric from which they derive and which they need to sustain ourselves.