Educate, Empower, Enlighten
International Women's Day is but a reminder. Everyday should be women's day, and child's day, and human being's day. Everyday we should recall the millions of women who cannot afford to feed their children. The millions of women who do not have access to education. The millions of women living in war torn countries. The millions of women living under oppressive dictatorships. The millions of women being abused by their governments, their employers, their husbands, their parents, their children, and even their fellow woman.
Injustice is not something preserved for women, but women are disproportionately affected by war, poverty, illiteracy, and various forms of abuse.
Women are forced into prostitution, women are raped as a tool of war, women are used to sell cars and chips.
Today I am reminded that no matter how much I complain, I am a lucky woman. I am a woman who did not live in poverty, did not live in fear, did not live in a war zone, or a refugee camp. I have had access to the best education my whole life, and my future is promising. I have not been forced to bind my feet. I have not been genitally mutilated. I have not been forced to marry someone I do not know or do not like. I have not been sold into marriage for political or financial gains. I have not been attacked for endangering my family's "honor".
Today I am grateful for being a Muslim American woman. I could have said that I am grateful for being a Jordanian or Arab woman, but I do not believe that either affiliation has granted me much. I am at times ashamed to be an Arab, ashamed to be Jordanian. I am at times also ashamed to be American. But I'm never ashamed to be a Muslim woman, although in this day and age, it is difficult to disassociate myself from the many who have misused and abused Islam.
I'm ashamed to be a Jordanian woman because my children cannot be Jordanian like me. Not even half Jordanian. I cannot pass my citizenship on to them because I am marrying a non-Jordanian man.
I'm not ashamed to be a Muslim woman because I have been able to practice my religion in the United States without provocation, and without achieving any less than if I had not been Muslim. I do not feel that I have been stripped of any rights or constrained by any religious requirement. I feel empowered by Islam's call for me to educate myself, to be an active member of society. Islam has not limited my freedom. Arab and Jordanian customs have sometimes limited my freedom. American capitalism has sometimes limited my freedom.
I am ashamed to be an Arab woman because my sisters in Iraq are being raped while the Middle East is silent. I am ashamed to be Arab because our mothers in Palestine are starving while women in Virginia and Riyadh are competing over the most expensive handbags. I am ashamed to see that Muslim women are not as educated as their counterparts around the world. I am ashamed to see that my Muslim brothers are not up in arms when one of their sisters is murdered by a raging relative claiming that his honor lies between her legs. I am ashamed that we don't stand up for our own God given rights.
This is what I think about today, and what we should think about everyday.
Let us...Educate, Empower, Enlighten.