International Women's Day

March 08, 2013

The World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists

The realities of gender inequality and female disempowerment are recognized and acknowledged worldwide, as well as the particular challenges faced by women and girls in the developing world: primary and secondary education remains elusive, and without education, girls are more likely to remain in the poverty cycle and carry a greater workload than their male counterparts; they have less access to land, credit, and income; they are more likely to suffer legal discrimination, and uneducated girls run a higher risk of exploitation. Women's challenges directly impact children’s health, nutrition, education, and overall survival and well-being.

The World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists recognizes that gender bias manifests itself in Muslim-majority countries in unique ways. Media attention often focuses on extreme examples of domestic violence, honor killings, and underage marriages. Commonly highlighted are the patriarchal traditions, extremist religious conservatism, and anti-Western political ideology, all of which are used as a tool to control basic social freedoms such as mobility, access to health services, dress, employment, and business relationships. There exist, however, more subtle and pervasive forms of gender bias in Muslim societies, such as the lack of understanding of women’s basic legal and religious rights, the gaps in knowledge, and the lack of tools women need to improve their lives and empower themselves and their peers.

Empowerment through Enlightenment (E&E) is gender equity and human rights promotion initiative of the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists, unveiled at the ECOSOC's special meeting on "Engaging Philanthropy to Promote Women Empowerment and Gender Equality" in 2010.

The stature of WCMP as the premier worldwide forum of Muslim philanthropy and the relationships and agreements it has fostered enables it to address the critical but highly sensitive issue of women’s empowerment in majority Muslim societies. WCMP is uniquely positioned to address the multiple conflicts between religious and cultural perspectives on gender equity, and how those conflicts impact poverty, health, education, and civic engagement.

The WCMP asserts that a rational discussion will be effective only through a convergence of four key components:
i) the discussion must be lead by Muslims themselves,
ii) the religious dimension must be addressed upfront,
iii) the diversity of cultural perspectives on gender must be acknowledged and accepted; and
iv) the Muslim male must become enlightened on the religious as well as constitutional rights of women.

As International Women's Day is celebrated around the world today, WCMP affirms its commitment to alter the societal attitude towards women rights, particularly the access to education, share in inheritance, business or asset ownership, consent to marriage, and right to seek divorce and remarriage, all granted within the framework of Islam.

The World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists is currently inviting working group members, and funding and program partners for the Empowerment through Enlightenment program. If you would like to discuss this further, please contact WCMP at To download E&E brochure click here