By Dr. Malika B. Mistry
Mumbai: Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), Multiple Research and Action Group (MARG) and Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Contemporary Studies (RGCCS) together held a one day workshop at the University of Mumbai, Kalina, Mumbai, on 11th March 2013, to discuss ways in which the socio-legal issues of Muslim women can be addressed. Muslim women face double discrimination in India: gender discrimination from traditional patriarchy and discrimination against religious minorities. The result is their exclusion and oppression in large numbers. This state level workshop titled ‘Improving the Socio-Legal Status of Muslim Women in India’ brought together various stakeholders ranging from NGO activists, lawyers, students, media, government agencies, religious leaders and Muslim women, to better understand their concerns and interests and chart the way ahead for a more just and equitable future. The workshop explored the socio-legal problems faced by Muslim women in India, experiences and causes of discrimination, and the institutional support system (particularly Minorities and Women’s Commissions) available to them. The key speakers at the workshop were Zakia Soman from BMMA, Javed Anand from Muslims for Secular Democracy, Noorjehan Safia Niaz, Founder Member, BMMA and Dr. Chandrakant Puri, Chair Professor, RGCCS. The striking feature of this workshop was that a number of grass-root level Muslim activists working in slums/bastis in different parts of Mumbai and from all over Maharashtra took part and were quite vocal about their issues.