The first International Women's Day events were run in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland in 1911. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. 100 years later, International Women's Day has become a global mainstream phenomena celebrated across many countries and is an official holiday in approximately 25 countries. IWD events are being held all over the world. The United Kingdom is staging more events than any other country, followed by Canada, the U.S. and Australia.
Why IWD started: Suffragettes campaigned for women's right to vote. The word 'Suffragette' is derived from the word "suffrage" meaning the right to vote. International Women's Day honours the work of the Suffragettes, celebrates women's success, and reminds of inequities still to be redressed.
And as you well know, in the Islamic world there is much to be redressed. Countries employing Sharia law have the worst women's rights records on the planet. In Saudi Arabia, for example, "Women are not allowed to drive, and they cannot travel, accept employment, or open a bank account without the approval of a male relative. In addition, Saudi women must be fully veiled from head to toe and from front to back, and they must submit to arranged child marriage and to polygamy," writes Phyllis Chesler in a recent article.
"Sharia law rules. Thus, adultery, choosing a husband of one’s own, or refusing to marry, might be privately punished by solitary confinement, beatings, or being honor murdered. Adultery or failure to veil might lead to execution by the religious police or by the state."
One of the most important things we can do to stop the global expansion of orthodox Islam is to promote women's rights. To whatever degree Islamic women have rights, to that degree there has been an overt deviation from the doctrines of Islam, which means orthodox Muslims have become more heterodox. The more heterodox they are, the better for everyone, especially Muslim women.
There are so many ways to fight this battle, you can choose whichever one speaks to you most strongly. Work to end FGM, or to stop honor killing, or to ban the practice of stoning or child marriage or forced marriages, or to curb any of the many ways women are repressed by orthodox Islam, and you are ultimately working against Islam's prime directive. A man cannot be an orthodox Muslim while allowing Muslim women to enjoy equal rights with men. Orthodoxy and women's rights cannot coexist. Increase one and you necessarily and ineluctably decrease the other.
With the upcoming international event, we have a good opportunity to talk about Islam with the people we know — and we don't even have to mention the word "Islam" to do it. If you know people who have absolutely refused to talk to you about this subject, or for whom conversations are so upsetting it is not worth it, talk about International Women's Day. Let them know how they can help women around the world gain more human rights. Tell them about The Girl Effect. Get them involved. They don't have to know anything at all about Islam to work against Islam's prime directive.
I suggest we all choose the subcategory of counterjihad causes that is dearest to our hearts, and find ways people can become involved, and then talk about it with people this week. Don't even mention Islam or Muslims, but share websites and Facebook pages with people and encourage them to subscribe. Share DVDs or articles or books and encourage them to read.
International Women's Day is an opportunity for the counterjihad to join with another movement in a common cause. Let's take advantage of it this week.
Here are some possible Facebook pages for subcategories of counterjihad causes to get you started:
Honor Killing is Pure Evil
2 Million people against Female Circumcision
The Stoning of Soraya M.
The Girl Effect