Author: Ida Lichter
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books): “In this inspiring compilation of stories from around the world, the voices of these long-oppressed women ring loud and clear as they demand the social and political rights women lack in many Muslim countries.”
Thoughts: If ever I needed a reminder of how lucky I am to be living in the United States, Muslim Women Reformers was that reminder. The stories of the struggles of Muslim women in countries throughout the globe are heartbreaking yet inspiring. Facing ostracism, torture and even death, these women are not afraid to stand up for their rights, to challenge the status quo and do everything to make their voices heard. It is up to the rest of us to help them in their fight.
Broken up by country, Ms. Lichter presents vignettes of the battle women in that country face. Some countries are more tolerant, more progressive than others, but all of the women featured experience hardships the likes of which most women in western countries can only imagine. The portrayals of each woman is in the form of a short biography and cover activists, politicians, correspondents, writers and others.
Told matter-of-factly, Ms. Lichter showcases the fact that most westerners do not understand just what it means to be a Muslim woman in a Muslim country. Their oppression is most decidedly not religious in nature but from men who are distorting a religion for their own power struggles. If anything, this true understanding of the battle is one that remains most important lesson to share with others.
Because of the nature of some of the stories, Muslim Women Reformers is best read in short bursts, allowing the reader time to absorb the information first. I made the mistake of reading the book quickly, and at times, it became too much – too much pain, too much danger, too many unhappy endings. I wish I had read it more slowly, if anything to avoid the sense of repetition I felt. So many of the women face such similar oppression, that often it felt I was reading the same biography over again. I do not feel this was the fault of Ms. Lichter but rather indicative of the pervasiveness of the overall problem.
Muslim Women Reformers is one that should become part of the canon for women’s studies. One glance at the table of contents gives one a clear picture of how many women are fighting for equal rights in a majority of the countries around the globe. If we are to help our sisters in their fight, the first step is understanding what they face. In her comprehensive presentation of Muslim Women Reformers, Ms. Lichter does just that.
Thank you to Lisa Roe from Online Publicist for my review copy!