What is the Gender Desk about?
A sub-committee of the MYM
Recognizing that gender oppression is pervasive in our communities, the MYM, in its effort to establish a just social order based on the Divine Will, established the Gender Desk. The Gender Desk is a special commission of the MYM that focuses on gender issues.
Mission of the Gender Desk
Committed to the Islamic values of justice, freedom and equality, the MYM Gender Desk focuses on gender issues in order to transform society and affirm people's humanity through education, campaigns and the empowerment of women.
The Gender Desk functions in eight regions headed by a National Coordinator. Locals of the MYM also have Gender Desk co-coordinators. The co-coordinators are all women and are full members of the local, regional and national executives of the organization.
Mobilize and Organize
Recognizing that women are not as active in the organization and society as is desired, we recruit women members to the MYM and ensure that they are active members participating at all levels of the organization. The Gender Desk also mobilizes community support for its campaigns.
Let the women be heard!
Women have not had much of a say in the interpretation of Islam, and their voices have been suppressed in mosques and other institutions. There therefore exists "voicelessness" of women in Islam. We work towards ensuring that the woman's voice is heard.
Equal access for women
Recognizing that Muslim women have been excluded from the public domain, we campaign for women's access to Muslim institutions, committees and organizations. We have embarked on a campaign to reclaim access to the mosques and ensure that women are represented on committees and boards set up to manage Muslim affairs.
A Just Muslim Personal Law
Recognizing that unjust practices have crept into MPL and that there is a need to consult and inform the community about something that affects them so intimately, we campaign for the implementation of a just MPL in South Africa by challenging un-Islamic MPL practices, participating on the MPL Board, pressurizing for a just MPL and consulting with other women. The MYM also informs the public about the process and developments on the incorporation of MPL into the South African judicial system though the media.
The MYM Gender Desk runs a feeding scheme for People living With Hiv\Aids at Prince Msheni Hospital in Umlazi and Osindisweni hospital in Verulam. It has also sent members and volunteers to train-the-trainer workshops on home-based care workshop to prepare them to run similar workshops in their communities or provide services for community based organizations in their areas.
The Gender Desk in partnership with Taking Islam to People (TIP) runs the workshops on Muslim Personal Law Workshop, Domestic Violence and HIV\AIDS prevention in communities around Kwazulu-Natal collaborating with community-based organizations and NGO's and community workers operating in these areas. To date workshops have been held in Phoenix (in collaboration with Phoenix Dawah and Advise Centre), Ladysmith (together with Ladysmith Dawah Centre), Port Shepstone (working with Al-Minhaaj). Communities who want the gender desk to run these workshops for them are free to contact the gender desk at the number provided above.
Workshops and seminars - the Gender Desk organizes public workshops and seminars on gender and Islam.
Provide Information - we provide information and literature on gender and Islam as alternatives to sexist information. Challenge sexism - we challenge unjust sexist attitudes and behavior and promote the gender sensitive spirit of Islam. Media - use the media, Muslim and other, to promote our positions and policies and to counter the misrepresentation of Islam's position on women, and the attack on Islam using this issue.
The Gender Desk has prepared questionnaires to gather information on gender perception and relationships amongst Muslims in South Africa.
Develop Women Scholars
Recognizing that there is a lack of women scholars sensitive to gender and other issues, we believe that there is an urgent need for women to study Islam in local and international institutions. We encourage particularly young women to take up such opportunities.
The Gender Desk networks with local and international Muslim and other organizations that share its agenda.
We support the idea of a national federation of Muslim women in South Africa. Such a federation will represent the voice of all Muslim women and empower women.