Regional Conference on Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Muslim Societies, held in Jakarta 11-12 March 2009.

It was a joined program between ICIP and United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). The background of program was since women are running for public office in growing numbers, reaching an average of 18.4 per cent of seats in national assemblies, and exceeding 30 per cent representation in national assembly in 22 countries. Women are engaging in a wide range of markets, from local to global chains of production in the course of their economic lives. Women have played a critical role in advocating and ensuring that the legal framework is applied justly to benefit all individuals, women and men. Progress has been made in the number and scope of laws aimed at advancing women’s rights within the formal justice systems. The conference is an invitation to discuss some of the questions raised above, to develop linkages between issues and concerns of women and gender equality in Muslim societies and to share strategies for enhancing women’s rights in Muslim societies. Islamic laws, in these societies, are often applied by way of state legislation or general law in terms of policies and socio-cultural impacts of Islamic principles. The Objectives of this conference were, 1. To clarify the conceptual framework for understanding gender equality issues in the context of Muslim societies or Muslim majority countries where Islam plays a prominent role in informing policy and law for Muslim communities, 2. To provide participants with examples of effective, practical tools for addressing gender equality and women’s empowerment through legislation/programmes,3. To share experiences, good practices and successful implementation strategies in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment through reviewing selected countries’ interventions.

 The topics in the conference were “Gender Equality and Islam in South East Asia” by Noraini Othman, Professor in Sociology and Religion, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia;  “Islamic Reform and Gender Equality in international Muslim Societies” by Amina Wadud, Scholar ; “Mapping of gender equality trends in the context of Muslim Societies” by Dr. Asma Barlas, Professor of Politics and Director of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity Ithaca College; “Counter Legal Draft of Islamic Family Law: an Indonesia Experience” Musdah Mulia, Scholar and member of Counter Legal Draft team, Indonesia; CEDAW-Islam Framework in Integrating Gender Equality Perspectives into Legal Reform; Nursiti Amin, Balai Syura Ureong Inong Aceh; Informal Justice System and Gender Equality in Minority Muslim Society: Southern Thailand Pam Akrapisan, Institute of Religion, Culture and Peace, Payap University Thailand; “Legislative Indicators for Islamic Laws in Southeast Asia”, Salbiah Ahmad, Lawyer, Malaysia; “Patriarchal Fiqh, Use of Maqashid and Gender Equality”, Syafiq Hasyim, Deputy Director International Center for Islam and Pluralism -ICIP, Jakarta, Indonesia; “The Role of Judges in the Elimination of VAW in Religious Courts”, Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, Scholar and lecturer from State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga, Yogyakarta, Indonesia; “VAW in Conflict Situation: Southern Philippines”, Amirah Lidasan, Suara Bangsamoro National President, Philippines; “Working with Boys and Men on VAW in Muslim societies”, Nur Hasyim, Manager Media, Research, dan Training Rifka Annisa, Yogyakarta, Indonesia ; Women’s political participation in Malaysia”, Zarizana Abdul Aziz, Deputy Chairperson, Bar Council Human Rights Committee, Malaysia, “Women Political Role in the Southern Philippines”, Amina Rasul, Director of the Philippine Council on Islam and Democracy; “Woman’s leadership in politics in Afghanistan”, Hon. Shukria  Barakzai, Member of Parliament, Wolesi Jirga (Lower House) , National Assembly, Afghanistan, “Women’s political participation in Aceh”, Eka Srimulyani, Lecturer, IAIN Ar- Raniry ,Aceh, Indonesia; “Pluralism and Its Contribution to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Muslim Societies”, Farish Noor, Senior Fellow,NTU Singapore; “Resurgence of Identity Politics and Its Impact on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Thailand”, Sukree Langputeh, Dean Faculty of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Yala Islamic University, Pattani, Thailand;  “Making Identity Politics for Use of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment”, Lily Munir, Head of the Center for Pesantren and Democracy Studies, Jakarta; “Sexual and reproductive rights in Muslim Societies”,Lany Harijanti, UNFPA