Maine Law to welcome Muslim women’s rights advocate for 6th annual Justice For Women Lecture

Zainah Anwar, 2017 Justice for Women LecturerZainah Anwar, a leading advocate in the Muslim women’s rights movement, will visit Maine in March for the sixth annual Justice For Women (JFW) Lecture, presented by the University of Maine School of Law.

Ms. Anwar is at the forefront of the women’s movement, which seeks to end the use of Islam to justify the discrimination of women. She is the Director of Musawah, the global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family and a founding member of Sisters in Islam.

She will spend a week in Maine, speaking with a wide range of students and groups about advancing women’s rights within the framework of Islamic culture and faith. At 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 23, Ms. Anwar will deliver the Justice For Women Lecture at the Abromson Community Education Center in Portland. She will discuss What Islam, Whose Islam? The Struggle for Women’s Right to Equality and Justice in Muslim Contexts. The public can register for this free event at

“Ms. Anwar’s visit comes at a critical time in the conversation about the germaneness of the law and of policy to establish paths to equality and justice for women and girls. Ms. Anwar brings wisdom and knowledge to the discussion of an Islam that upholds these core values. I am confident that this year’s JFW lecture will create space for an unparalleled level of discourse about the Islamic faith and the Qur’an, a conversation for which so many of us have been waiting,” said Danielle Conway who is dean and professor at the University of Maine School of Law.

Sisters in Islam has successfully created a public voice and a public space for ordinary women to claim their right to speak out on Islam and the impact of Islamic laws on women’s rights and status. The success of Sisters in Islam led to the establishment of Musawah in 2009. The international movement brings together scholars and activists to produce new feminist scholarship in Islam, to train activists on women’s rights in Islam, and to challenge the ways in which governments use Islam to evade compliance with human rights treaty obligations.

Ms. Anwar has been named by Newsweek and The Daily Beast as one of the 150 women “who shake the world.” She writes a column, “Sharing the Nation,” for The Star. She is a former member of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia. Her book, Islamic Revivalism in Malaysia: Dakwah Among Students, has become a standard reference in the study of Islam in Malaysia.

The JFW Lecture Series brings speakers to Maine each year to discuss their work and strategies to promote justice for women and girls. Maine Law established the series in 2011 with leadership and support from attorney and civic leader Catherine Lee of Lee International.

Previous JFW lecturers were the Hon. Unity Dow (2012), the first woman to serve as a judge on Botswana’s High Court; Leymah Gbowee (2013), an activist and women’s rights advocate who won a Nobel Peace Prize for helping to end civil war in Liberia; Dr. Sima Samar (2014), chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, and founder of the Shuhada Organization; Ruchira Gupta (2015) of India, a global leader in the fight against sex trafficking and the founder and president of Apne Aap Women Worldwide; and Dr. Lindiwe Sibanda (2016) of Zimbabwe, CEO and head of mission of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN). The Hon. Albie Sachs of South Africa also participated as a special lecturer in 2013.

The Justice For Women Lecture Fund, an endowed fund, was created with the goal of sustaining the JFW Lecture Series in perpetuity. As of this winter, founder Catherine Lee, Honorary Chair Maddy Corson, and others have raised more than half of the $500,000 fundraising goal. Learn more at To support the lecture series, visit