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Today is International Women’s Day 2011 – and in the twitter age, the best way to take the global pulse of the event is via hashtag, specifically #internationalwomensday.

a long road aheadThe most important event occurring today is in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt – where a demonstration of Egyptian women is out in force to assert women’s rights and make sure that teh revolution doesn’t ignore them. In the wake of Lara Logan’s assault on Liberation Day, there has been a lot of justified concern that the revolution will leave women behind. Pakinam Amer (@pakinamamer), an Egyptian writer and journalist who was a key voice on Twitter during the revolution, and another woman @Egyptocracy are at the rally right this moment and her tweets are courageous, and depressing. In fact they just tweeted that there is so much harassment from men who are counter-protesting, that the women are abandoning the square out of concern for their safety. If the women in my family were attending that rally, I’d have gone with them. It’s clear that the revolution has a long way to go. 

But let’s not forget women in America, either, I want to highlight a new book being released in May, called I Speak For Myself, a collection of essays by American muslim women.

From the book’s website:

isfmyselfReaders of I Speak for Myself are presented with a kaleidoscope of stories, woven together around the central idea of limitlessness and individuality. A common theme linking these intimate self-portraits is the way each woman uniquely defies labeling, simply by defining for herself what it means to be American and Muslim and female.

This book serves as a source of inspiration and education for people of other faiths who are interested in learning more about what it is like to be Muslim in America, as well as Muslim women themselves. Some of the issues explored include the balance of Western values with Islamic ones; whether adopting the veil can be an obstacle in the professional arena; expressing oneself as a Muslim within society; and political engagement.

What makes the book notable is that it isn’t a defensive reaction to Islamophobia, but a genuine positive expression of identity. It’s value in combating stereotype, and asserting the role of American muslim women as American women, is of course going to be indispensable. But it’s not out to serve a specific political agenda or be part of the muslim political narrative. It’s just women, speaking for themselves. It’s a brilliant concept and long overdue, and is being recognized for it – including plaudits from Queen Noor of Jordan and an invitation from Farah Pandith at the State Department.

Also, I should mention that one of the editors is my sister, and the other is an old, dear friend! But that just means I’m more objective about how awesome the book is, because really, who wants to admit their kid sister ever did anything worthwhile? Winking smile

Seriously. Go pre-order the book now. And happy International Women’s Day!

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