|Empower women – say the religious texts and modern leaders|
Women not only have the right to equality, it is also clearly stated in the texts and by the prophets of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and Sikhism say a panel of academics and cultural leaders.
The call for women’s empowerment came during an inter-faith seminar held by the British Sikh Association in London on 2nd December 2015. While emphasising the history of women who played key roles in shaping the core values of these religions, often working alongside male prophets and leaders as mothers, siblings or spouses, the panel broadly accepted that modern society has lost sight of these values which call for women’s empowerment and equality in many religious texts.
The panel, which included British Sikh Association Chairman, Dr Rami Ranger MBE, Ms Laura Marks OBE, The Lord Sheikh of Cornhill and Dr Sukhbir S. Kapoor OBE, addressed the question first posed in the 13th Century by Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism: “Why condemn women who bear prophets and kings?” The compere of the Inter-faith seminar was Mr Hardyal Luther, the Vice Chairman of the British Sikh Association. According to Dr Ranger, “as a single parent child, whose father was assassinated before his birth for opposing the breakup of India, he would not be able to realise his ambitions if his mother had not been treated as an equal and allowed to be educated.
Educated women can bring up their families more effectively by bringing not only extra income but also experiences they themselves have gone through. Attitudes and aspirations of both girls and boys are unlikely to change if they see their mothers staying at home and often treated as subservients.” Ms Laura Marks, Founder of charity Mitzvah Day and co-Chair of the Nisa-Nashim Muslim Jewish Women’s Network, asked: “Why is it true that in communal leadership, you still don’t find women at the top? It’s the same in business. I strongly believe everyone should be promoted on their merits, but often women’s merits are not recognised in business because the requirements of organisations are fundamentally male.
We need to look at business models and ask if they allow women to come through – at the moment they don’t!” Lord Sheikh added: “Islam states how women should be treated but it is not happening at the moment. More needs to be done to give women recognition [in society and in business] and this should be based on merit ” .
He further challenged the notion that men cannot work under women in Islam, he gave the example of Prophet Mohammed PBUH who worked under Khadija whom he later married. Despite describing Sikhism as a “young religion [in relation to others] in which women have played an important role,” Dr Kapoor was frustrated by the fact that modern Sikh women appear not be experiencing the values of equality espoused by Guru Nanak.
“There is no clear, single reason for this, but it is a situation that should most definitely be condemned.” The panel called for business, political, educational and religious leaders to re-examine the core religious texts and reflect on the clear statements and values within them which call for the empowerment of women in religion and society.
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|Please click here to view Chairman’s Speech|
|Mr Hardyal Luther, Vice Chairman of the British Sikh Association|
|Dr Rami Ranger MBE, FRSA speaking on the need for moving away from a single income, multi-child family|
|Ms Laura Marks, Founder of Mitzvah Day and co-Chair of the Nisa-Nashim Muslim Jewish Women’s Network speaking on Women in Jewish Leadership|
|The Lord Sheikh of Cornhill speaking on recognising women in in society and business|
|Dr Sukhbir Kapoor OBE, General Secretary of the British Sikh Association speaking on the values of equality espoused by Guru Nanak|
|Executive Members of the British Sikh Association[left to right]: Mr Hardip Singh, Dr Peter Chadha, Mrs and Mrs Ravi Gidar and The Panel: The Lord Sheikh of Cornhill, Dr Sukhbir Kapoor OBE, Ms Laura Marks, Dr Rami Ranger MBE, FRSA and Mr Hardyal Luther|