Islamic Relief has launched a call for contributions to a pioneering Islamic Declaration of Gender Justice at this year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York. The Declaration is a call to action against gender inequality from an Islamic faith perspective, and seeks to tackle discrimination and harmful practices, especially against women and girls in Muslim communities.

Islamic Relief developed the Declaration in partnership with humanitarian agencies, faith leaders and community organisations who are committed to tackling what is one of the greatest injustices of our time. The landmark initiative presents key faith principles of justice and balance to proactively challenge negative cultural practices and engrained social traditions that are leaving women and girls disadvantaged and vulnerable.

A working version of the Declaration was shared at the UN conference in a high-profile event attended by delegates from UN bodies, including the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Women, UNAIDS, universities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The Declaration affirms the God-given rights of all human beings and aims to bring together organisations to ‘stand firmly’ for gender justice and restore justice through a mainstream voice inspired by faith. It aims to change the narrative of oppression and exclusion – a pressing issue in today’s world.

Iman Sandra Pertek, Senior Gender Advisor at Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), said,

“This Declaration is a step forward in uniting and amplifying faith voices in promoting gender justice. We have received great support from the Islamic Relief family, inter-faith partners, NGOs and UN agencies. We hope this initiative will continue to engage diverse audiences and achieve its full potential as a global campaign for restoring women’s and girls’ dignity and their rights.”

 

Shahin Ashraf, Global Advocacy Advisor at IRW, said,

“Islamic Relief plays a pivotal role in representing the Muslim voice in women’s empowerment and gender justice debates. The launch of this Declaration is a landmark moment that will lead to change in our organisations and help ensure every human being, irrespective of gender, has the right to a life of dignity and respect simply by virtue of being human.”

The consultation launch event at UN CSW62 gave delegates the opportunity to join Islamic Relief’s journey in creating a valuable statement for mobilising action against gender inequality by commenting, committing to and sharing thoughts on the contents of the Declaration as well as its scope and aims.

Dr Aisha Alayafi AL-Shareef, Senior Human Development Specialist at Islamic Development Bank gave the event’s keynote address, commenting:

“Gender-based discrimination has no place in Islam and I believe that empowering women and promoting gender justice in the Muslim world is our responsibility. I support Islamic Relief’s launch of a global consultation on the first Islamic Gender Justice Declaration.”

 

Participants heard from panellists including Dr Juliane Hammer, Associate Professor and Kenan Rifai Scholar of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina and Dr Ahmed Elrefai, Board Member of the McLean Islamic Center. Dr Hammer said:

“This is an important document and I am impressed to see such powerful language used within it.”

Delegates commended the Declaration’s bold ambition, broad reach and for sparking a much-needed conversation with faith-based and secular organisations. Dr Azza Karam, Senior Advisor at the UNFPA has been a supporter of Islamic Relief’s gender justice work for many years. She said,

“It takes women of faith working together with leadership to ensure religious institutions enable justice and mercy. Well done [to all those] working side by side.”

Plans to develop the Declaration include further consultations in regions around the world including Africa, Asia and Europe, and the creation of working and steering groups of key global stakeholders to ensure it makes a strong impact in tackling gender inequality.

—-

This event formed part of the annual two-week conference hosted by the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. This year’s theme at CSW62 is to explore the challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.

For more information on Islamic Relief’s work on gender justice, including details and summaries of the events, follow the latest updates on the IRW website.