Executive Director Zainah Anwar explains the Campaign for Justice in Muslim Family Laws: why it is necessary, why now, and how you can join us!
“Mesh Hastanna | مش هاستنى | I Won’t Wait” features song and lyrics by Egyptian rap artist Felukah, set to animated illustrations by Syrian illustrator Rama Duwaji. Music produced by Malik El Messiry.
Campaign for Justice in Muslim Family Laws
Musawah is spearheading a global Campaign for Justice in Muslim Family Laws, bringing together advocates for family law reform from across three regions—Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia—to build support at the national, regional and global levels for the urgency of reform towards equality and justice for women living in Muslim contexts.
Why is this campaign necessary and possible?
Because Muslim women and girls are severely discriminated against.
family laws in
Over 45 countries in the world—some with Muslim-majority populations and some with Muslim minorities, including all members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)—have codified or uncodified Muslim family laws that govern family relationships. Many of these laws are discriminatory towards women and girls.
These de facto and de jure Muslim family laws are the source of discrimination against women, at entry into marriage, during marriage, and at the dissolution of the marriage.
Inequality and discrimination in the family affect women and girls in all spheres of life, especially in key decision making about education, employment, livelihood, travel, sexual and reproductive health, financial rights, community and political participation, etc.
For women and girls, there can be no equality in society without equality in the family.
Because there is overwhelming resistance to family law reform.
Over the past decades, scholarship and activism in the Muslim world have developed to make the case for the possibility and necessity of reform. Growing evidence shows that many provisions in Muslim family laws, as defined by classical jurists and as reproduced in modern legal codes, are untenable in contemporary circumstances and indefensible on Islamic grounds.
Religion, ideology, culture, or tradition can no longer be used to justify discrimination against women and girls.
Because we believe in the collective power of Muslim women to mobilise a global movement to reform Muslim family laws.
At the international level, there is increasing recognition that egalitarian family laws are essential to achieve gender equality. In compliance with CEDAW, governments have the primary responsibility:
- to engage Muslim women as a key constituency in developing laws and policies that affect our lives;
- to enact reforms that better comply with treaty obligations that uphold and advance human rights for everyone, regardless of religious belief;
- to end discrimination against women in marriage and family and to promote gender equality in families in substantive ways that reflect the needs and realities of today’s families.
In the 21st century, there can be no justice without equality!
NEW! Policy Briefs Series
Past Workshops and Webinars
WEBINAR: Muslim Women Creating New Futures: The Campaign for Justice in Muslim Family Laws
In this webinar, titled “Muslim Women Creating New Futures: The Campaign for Justice in Muslim Family Laws,” speakers Zainah Anwar, Marwa Sharafeldin, and Hala Al-Karib, with moderator Salomé Gómez-Upegui, discuss the work of Muslim women activists campaigning for egalitarian reform in Muslim family laws across Southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
WEBINAR: Indian Muslim Women’s Movement: For Gender Justice and Equal Citizenship
In this webinar, Zakia Soman and Dr. Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-founders of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) and co-authors of “Indian Muslim Women’s Movement: For Gender Justice and Equal Citizenship,” will discuss their pioneering activism for equal rights and equal citizenship of Muslim women in India, advocacy strategies, challenges of advocating women’s rights in a Muslim minority context, and linkages with Muslim women’s movements across the globe. Moderated by Alex McCarthy of Musawah, and co-hosted by Harvard Law School’s Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World and Musawah.
WEBINAR: Why Muslim Family Law Reform? Why Now? Regional Perspectives
In this webinar, we will unpack the urgency of reforming discriminatory Muslim family laws in three regions: South and Southeast Asia, Middle East-North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Featuring Hala Al-Karib, Marwa Sharafeldin and Zainah Anwar, moderated by Hyshyama Hamin.
The Advocacy Toolkit will provide resources and outreach tools for organisational and individual activists to advocate for reform to discriminatory family laws. Illustrations by Sonaksha Iyengar.