26 March 2014 - At a panel in celebration of annual Gender Month at ADB and International Women's Day 2014, Ratna Osman, Executive Director of Sisters in Islam (SIS), Malaysia, discussed gender equality within Islam and the challenges of advancing gender equality within religion. She emphasized that the core of Islamic faith, based on the Quran, embraces principles of gender equality - it is the human misinterpretation of the Quran on polygamy, patriarchy, 'wali' (guardianship), among others, that led to gender-biased religious and legislative practices. She also spoke about the landmark Malaysian court cases seeking justice for women and what the SIS has been doing in support of gender justice. Osman stressed that reform is not only possible but necessary to truly espouse the teachings in the Quran and apply them in the present time.
Discussant, Office of the General Counsel's Irum Ahsan supplemented the presentation by discussing common misinterpretations about the 'hijab', inheritance rights and evidentiary rules. She encouraged the reading of the Quran in a progressive context.
Moderator, Asel Djusupbekova of the Office of the General Counsel, opened and facilitated the panel.