The WISE Story

WISE was established with the belief that the fight for Muslim women’s equality starts with fostering, collaborating and supporting the diverse work of Muslim women leaders worldwide. We began as a faith-based movement at a historic gathering in New York City in 2006. On that day, 200 leading Muslim women scholars, activists, artists, religious and civil society leaders – representing more than 25 countries – joined together to develop a holistic and comprehensive vision for improving the position of Muslim women around the globe.

Admirable individual achievement can become part of a larger collective action project that the WISE women’s network has and will continue to assemble.Nevertheless, WISE programs are without precedent in scope, scale and mission. WISE is transforming the position of Muslim women in innumerable contexts from within the Islamic faith and traditions.

Since this inaugural gathering, WISE has:

What's in a name?

Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality

  • Muslim Women represent 1/6th of humanity or approximately 175 million people around the world. Although gender-based inequality is a global human rights issue that transcends culture, religion, and socio-economic status, Muslim women in particular confront the limitations of discrimination and inequality.
    • Contrary to the prevailing negative perceptions about Muslim women, Islamic history contains an impressive record of the remarkable contributions of Muslim women in their roles as leaders, professionals, scholars, teachers, interpreters of sacred text and law, caregivers and activists.
    • Despite this rich legacy of excellence, the reality is that Muslim women’s ability to confront human rights violations remains hampered because of fragmentation between competing movements.
  • We chose to unite around Islamic ideals and values to create positive social change to emphasize solidarity and cooperation among divergent and sometimes opposing groups and to promote peaceful and prosperous societies.
  • We anchored our vision in Spirituality to ground our efforts in ethics and morality to give meaning and purpose to our activism and to acknowledge that our mandate is part of a higher calling.
  • We promote an overarching message of gender Equality to echo the Quran’s emphasis on human and gender equality to thwart patriarchal interpretations of the Holy texts and to assert that gender equality is an intrinsic part of the Islamic faith.
  • We chose a path of Wisdom or hikmah to guide us in reaching the higher truth, in understanding the essence of the matter, to enable us to think correctly so we can carry out the right action in any given situation, and to make the best use of knowledge in promoting peace, justice, and equality around the world.