• Aseel Saif

Muslim Eye View | Playing politics with The Muslim woman’s body

What does it take to become an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls? I, personally, would imagine years of charity work with those in dire need, campaigning for women’s rights in countries where their rights are non-existent or general women’s rights activism, would fit the bill. However, and apparently, none of those are essential, as being an overly sexualised and fictitious character from a 70’s show, lands you this job.

In the past week, we have seen the UN award Lynda Carter, or commonly known as Wonder Woman from the 1970’s show, this important and significant role. Of course, and as expected woman around the world saw this as a poor move by Secretary-General Ban Ki- Moon, and quite rightly so. This decision came as part of the campaign to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goal 5. For the average women, this may not be something we are all familiar with, when in reality we should, as it is campaign that has the goal of achieving gender equality and empowerment for women and girls around the world. It is one of the 17 goals set by the UN in the year of 2015 that aims to attain a protected and prosperous planet. The question that has been flagged up amongst the UN and beyond, is that how is the average women, who suffers day in day out, meant to be represented by a Caucasian privileged woman from a rather wealthy and powerful country. Her understanding and perception, however many times she may visit Africa or the shanty towns of India, of the world will always be different to the real women who, on a daily basis, fight for empowerment.

Of course, one of the biggest problems in the 21st century is the way people have come to perceive women. They are easily judged by the way they dress and this very fact there has been a backlash on Lynda Carter becoming the UN ambassador. It is partly because she dressed so provocatively in Wonder Woman of which set standards that were simply unrealistic for young women around the world. Therefore, her appearance and character did not and does not represent the average woman we know and have grown to accept. Having said this, she still managed to attain a position at which puts her in a place of influence where she represents all women around the world. This is what we should all have a problem with; not because the way she dressed but because she could dress the way she wanted and was still able to achieve great things. A luxury many Muslim Woman do not and will probably never enjoy.

Therefore, this is, by no means, a problem that only the ‘white’ or ‘western’ women should get angry about. This is a case for women everywhere, and most definitely one for the Muslim Woman. How many real Muslim women, besides Malala, have we seen take up an influential and representative role in the UN? Most likely not as much as we want.

If one is to be asked about the plight of the Muslim women in the world, you would be able to list a horrifying list of incidents and attacks she has had to withstand. We are constantly bombarded with statistics, numbers and reports on how the Muslim woman is oppressed and yet we do not see the world giving them the opportunity to represent themselves. Instead we see Hijab, Niqab, and Burkini bans, which are mistaken to be the reason for our lack of our empowerment. When, in fact, the very action of banning the Muslim Women’s ability to express herself through her choice of clothing is the very reason to her lack of empowerment and integration.

Politics has never had boundaries and is present in the public and private sphere. It is not as one would like to assume where it is strictly in the halls of Westminster or the like. In most recent years, one can say it has truly and quite terrifyingly entered our homes, our wardrobes and now our bodies. Women’s bodies, and more specifically the Muslim woman’s body, has become the arena at which politics has taken centre stage. The Muslim woman’s physical appearance, may be to some, just the embodiment of a religion they have quite wrongfully misunderstood but she too is a human being who suffers and enjoys life like no other women in the world. She too deserves a voice to express herself.

She is the mother that has lost her husband, child, mother and father to a war that she had nothing to with. She is the woman sitting at home educating her children and supporting her husband, so they can have a comfortable life. She is the woman praying that she will not get attacked and stripped off her hijab, as she does the grocery shopping.

She is your everyday Super Woman without the latex and unrealistic figure.

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