Malaysian Women’s Rights Activist
Hijri 1375–Present (AH); Common Era 1955–Present (CE)
Zainah Anwar is widely recognized in Malaysia as the founder of Sisters in Islam (also known as SIS), which, for the past 20 years, insists on justice for women as accorded to them by the Qur’an. The objectives of SIS are “to promote and develop a framework of women's rights in Islam, which takes into consideration women's experiences and realities, eliminate injustice and discrimination against women by changing practices and values that regard women as inferior to men, and create public awareness, and reform laws and policies, on issues of equality, justice, freedom, dignity and democracy in Islam.” To that end, in 2006, Anwar and SIS pushed down a family law amendment which would have made polygamy and divorce easier for Malaysian men. Through SIS, Anwar has achieved international acclaim in her quest for women’s rights in the structure available in the Qur’an. Holding a law degree from Tufts University, Anwar is also a former member of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia. As the public face of SIS, Anwar gives public speeches on Islam and women's rights, politics, and fundamental liberties on both the Malaysian and international stage. Her book, Islamic Revivalism in Malaysia: Dakwah Among the Students, is a standard reference for those studying Malaysia, especially Malaysian Islam.