Iraqi women hoped that last year’s election would cement a larger role for them in the government. But they have less political influence today than at any time since the American invasion.
No women took part in the protracted negotiations to reach a compromise government. And despite holding a quarter of the seats in Parliament, only one woman runs a ministry: women’s affairs, a largely ceremonial department with a tiny budget and few employees.
In the previous government from 2006 to 2010, four women led ministries, and in the government from 2005 to 2006, six did, including the influential ones governing public works, refugees and communications.
Muslim women are warriors:
One of the most distinguished women who took part in the battle of Uhud, if not the most distinguished of them, was Nasibah bint Ka’b al-Maziniyyah, Umm ‘Umarah (May Allah be pleased with her). At the beginning of the battle, she was bringing water and tending the wounded, as the other women were doing. When the battle was going in the favour of the Muslims, the archers disobeyed the command of the Prophet (SAW), and this turned the victory into defeat, as the Qur’an described it:
“Behold! You were climbing up the high ground, without even casting a side glance at anyone, and the Messenger in your rear was calling you back…” 3:153
At this point, Nasibah went forward, with her sword unsheathed and her bow in her hand, to join the small group who were standing firm with the Prophet (SAW), acting as a human shield to protect him from the arrows of the mushrikin. Every time danger approached the Prophet (SAW) she hastened to protect him. The Messenger of ALlah (SAW) noticed this, and later said, “Wherever I turned, to the left or the right, I saw her fighting for me.”
Al-Shifaa bint Abdullah al Qurashiyah al Adawiyah was one of the great and wise women of her time. Literate, skilled in medicine and involved in public administration, she had a strong presence in early Islamic history. When Umar was caliph, he used to ask for her opinion. He even appointed her an officer, or wali, in the administration of the marketplace. Al-Shifaa was probably the first Muslim woman to hold an official position in public administration.
So as you can see, Muslim women have done far more than just sit in the kitchen cooking :)
“In the early 20th century, Princess Fatima Al Zamil qualified as one ruler. A blue-blooded lady born of a marriage between members of the Al-Rasheed and Shammar tribes - which makes her a relative of the current Saudi Arabian King Abdullah - she ruled the province of Ha’il from 1911 to 1914 as an administrator of her minor grandson’s estate.
Princess Fatima ran the affairs of her society and people from the historic and lavish three-storey Barzan Palace, over which she had full authority. She received foreign guests such as the British writer and politician Gertrude Bell, a close friend and associate of TE Lawrence (of Arabia). She allowed her visitor to photograph her in her residence with her long beaded hair adorning her chest and with her face uncovered, something that is taboo for many Arab women almost a century later.
What is possibly the most significant fact of Princess Fatima’s reign wasn’t that she ruled over the now demolished 300,000 square metre Barzan Palace, but that she was chosen by the elders of the two most powerful tribes of the central Arabian peninsula in what may be one of the few exercises of tribal democracy in the Gulf.
One may ponder the obstacles that would hinder women from reaching the top post once again. Religion is often used by conservatives to maintain the status quo. However, in modern history, years before Hillary Clinton decided to run for president of the (secular) US, more than one woman has reached the helm of power in Bangladesh, a country founded on Islamic tenets.”
“A man tried to rule us and failed—will we let a woman?” a middle-aged man yelled at the crowd of Egyptian women holding banners in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The men around him burst out laughing.
Egyptian women had called for a demonstration insisting that their demands and rights be taken into greater consideration by the military currently running the country.
“Our first goal is just to make society here aware that there is an International Women’s Day,” said Mona Eddin, a women’s rights activist. “We also want to send a message to the government that they need to implement policies of equality between men and women. After a revolution, everything should change.”