Promoting Women’s Participation in Private, Public and Political Life: The Case of Fatima Zahra Women’s Organization in Zimbabwe

Lawrence Tsuro is a program coordinator of Fatima Zahra Women’s Organization (FZWO), an Islamic faith-inspired non–profit organization that was formed in 1994 with a mandate to empower women and the community by providing education to vulnerable groups. Its vision is to provide religious and moral guidance while uplifting communities.  FZWO’s work is based on the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad and his purified household.  The actual practices of the Prophet himself and his purified family provide further guidance about how Muslims might translate the lessons of the Qur’an.

In 2009, FZWO, established a college and a home for less privileged children. Currently, the enrolment is at 90 students. FZWO has deepened its interventions to include empowering women and girls to access SRHR within the context of their faith. It collaborates with the Ahlul Bayt Islamic Guidance Council, an Islamic sister organization, named after the household of Prophet Muhammad, whose mandate also focuses on interfaith dialogues, religious training, youth, and development, among other things.

During covid19 lockdown we made and distributed face masks to less privileged families in Epworth. We also made and distributed sanitizers at funerals and religious gathering of both Muslim and Christians, and donated exercise books, pens, pencils, and office stationery for learners in rural schools in Zimbabwe.

This paper discusses the promotion of Muslim women’s participation in public, private, and political life in Zimbabwe. The author argues that Islamic teachings promote women’s involvement in various social spheres. However, cultural interpretations and faulty understandings of religious texts often restrict women’s participation. The paper highlights the historical examples of women actively participating in Islamic society, including the Prophet Muhammad’s wife and daughter.

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The author uses the Fatima Zahra Women’s Organization as a successful case study. This organization empowers Muslim women in Zimbabwe through education, skills training, and income-generating projects. The organization emphasizes religious education alongside practical skills development. They collaborate with other organizations and government bodies to advocate for women’s empowerment. The paper concludes by commending Fatima Zahra’s work and suggests fostering international collaboration to share best practices in promoting Muslim women’s participation in society.

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