As International Women's Day approaches, Muslims are still the villains in the battle for women's rights worldwide.
Muslim men have been and continue to be perceived as misogynists and wife-beaters. Muslim women are the oppressed, deserving of pity while being criticized for their passive acceptance of the status quo.
International Women's Day represents women's struggle for equality, justice, peace and development. While all of these goals are worthy of respect and struggle, they are also understood in a secular and materialist framework, usually devoid of the belief in any Higher authority.
Muslims must use this opportunity to present the true Islamic position on the status of women. While brothers must play a role, the key players in this quest are Muslim sisters who can "tell it like it is". Their voice will be more credible because they speak first-hand, from experience, as Muslim women who have chosen the faith.
But we can't just talk the talk, as the saying goes. We've got to walk the walk. There are clearly improvements and changes that have to be made in our communities and in the Muslim world. Statistics indicate the high illiteracy rate of Muslim women worldwide; Islamic centers and Masjids often exclude women despite Islamic encouragement of this; the lot of Muslim women in Muslim countries often includes misogyny at the least and wife battery and honor killings on the other. It is time the injustices are addressed.
Let's begin a new chapter in history, when Muslim women will take their rightful place in Muslims communities worldwide, and be assessed fairly by non-Muslims.
Wendy Slattery - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hijab_woman_Liverpool.jpg