SIHA NETWORK: The struggle for justice and equality

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KAMPALA, 4th-10th April: The surge of political and militant interpretations of Islam in the Eastern and Horn of Africa has had major implications on the lives of populations and communities across the region. Muslims in the Horn and Eastern Africa are caught between being victims of the irrationality of militant interpretations and political Islam, misperceptions and marginalization. Countries across the Horn struggle with a variety of obstacles and challenges, as political Islam is used to oppress its populations, subjugate women and impose restrictive laws. Communities further struggle with violent incidences and attacks from non-state actors, general insecurity and harmful cultural practices. Where Muslim communities constitute minorities, they often face marginalization and profiling by the state. This restricts them in exercising their rights as citizens. These recent developments and surges of militant and political Islam, have led to regression in regard to upholding and exercising women’s and human rights standards.

SIHA Network, even though being a women’s rights organization, has  over the years come to understand that there is a greater need of working with and around the root causes of violence, injustice and victimization of women living in Muslim communities. SIHA focuses on holistic approach of challenging obstacles to women’s human rights, justice and equality. The understanding that those issues cannot be tackled independently but need to be seen in the larger framework of religion, political setting and it’s intertwining with traditions and norms as well as the national and regional context, has led SIHA to adopt an integrated methodological approach.

For the second time SIHA organized the ‘Islam & Gender Equality and Justice” Horn of Africa Course (or I-nGEJ, pronounced ‘I engage’) for activists drawing from across the region –in collaboration with Musawah. Musawah is a global movement for justice and equality in the Muslim family. Their work focuses on knowledge building and bringing together of activists, scholars, legal practitioners, policy makers and grassroots women and men from, who wish to play a critical role in building a tradition of public debate on Islam and shaping a discourse that recognises equality and justice for Muslim women. During the course participants acquired tools refining their knowledge on Islamic jurisprudence, methodological tools to interrogate and question the common discourse, as well as assumptions drawing from the intersection of culture and religion.

SIHA is grateful for the participation of the brave women and men, who are striving to challenge dogmatic understandings of religion.