A Call for Action from #MuslimMaleAllies to Pledge to End #AllMalePanels at Muslim Events – A Grassroots Collaborative Initiative
This post is co-authored by Shehnaz Haqqani, Sabina Khan-Ibarra and Zahra Khan.
Because of the trend of all-male panels at Muslim events – as recently publicized through Twitter conversations with the hashtags #AddFemaleSpeakers and #NextTimeRememberHer, Muslim women and their allies have initiated a drive to challenge this patriarchal norm and demand the inclusion of Muslim women in such events. (Yes, Muslim women are aware that the all-male hegemony over scholarship, events, knowledge is not exclusive to Muslims; this has been demonstrated cleverly by the Tumblr that documents primarily all-male non-Muslim panels.) We want to clarify that we’re not simply demanding that women be invited and included as speakers, presenters, scholars, etc. on panels just because this is an issue of diversity, or for women to be the token woman speaker at an otherwise all-male panel. This is in fact about acknowledging women’s authority, knowledge, concerns, and voices. Muslim women have been involved in the production of knowledge throughout Muslim history, but their knowledge and authority continue to be suppressed.
One of the most common excuses for the exclusion of women from events is that “there aren’t enough qualified women to speak on this subject.” This is false: Several years ago, Zahra Billoo initiated a list of Muslim women scholars, authorities, leaders, and other speakers that an event organizer can invite to speak—and so far, the list exceeds 345 women (more can be added via this link). The issue, then, really isn’t about availability; it’s about the clear unwillingness of organizations to acknowledge the authority of highly qualified female scholars and to celebrate their knowledge and voices as equally legitimate and important as those of the men invited to speak instead. To put this reality into perspective, on May 2-3, 2015, a group of 12 Muslim men met at Cambridge Muslim College to discuss, among other related concerns, the future of the madrasah, the Islamic institution of learning. Similarly, ICNA has an event, “Living the Legacy: In the Footsteps of Muhammad,” scheduled for late November with 32 male speakers and no female speakers. This is not absurd, surprising, or unexpected given the popularity of events with all-male speakers as documented here. Responding to this dilemma of all-male, or otherwise male-dominated, panels, Muslim women have created a pledge that they urge Muslim men to sign. The pledge asks the signatory to refuse to speak at, attend, or otherwise support all-male or male-dominated events and, in cases where the men are invited as speakers, to offer a list of potential women speakers in their stead. To help promote the event and demand more attention towards it, there is also a Twitter event, using the hashtag #NoAllMalePanels, scheduled for Wednesday (Oct. 28) at 5pm PST / 8pm EST. The event will be hosted by Shehnaz Haqqani (@), Sabina Khan-Ibarra (@MuslimahMontage) Zahra Khan (@addfemalespeakers), Nahida S. Nisa (@haraammermaids), Muslimah Montage (@muslimahmontage), AltMuslimah (@AltMuslimah), MuslimGirl.net (@Muslimgirl), Love InshAllah (@loveinshallah), Mipsterz, and Side Entrance (@SideEntrance).
Please click here for the Facebook link to the Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1056934854340286/