Nothing changes the world quite like money, and the people who hold the purchasing power hold the power to turn the world around. For ages, Muslim women are left out of the table when it comes to global significance due to their lack of financial autonomy. However, award-winning economist Saadia Zahidi noted that slowly but surely, more and more Muslim women have started working, sparking a seismic revolution that many are unaware of even happening.
Growing up Pakistan, Saadia was aware that some women in her family work, albeit in socially-acceptable female careers like teaching and medicine. However, at 10 years old, she visited her father at work on a gas field and encountered a female field engineer who worked alongside men. If female engineers exists, perhaps there are other fields that women can find themselves working in. “Once seen she could never be unseen”, wrote Saadia in the introduction chapter of her new book, Fifty Million Rising: The New Generation of Working Women Transforming the Muslim World.
On a micro level, working Muslim women are revolutionary in that they are able to upend and challenge societal and cultural conventions that dictates the women’s place is in the house only. Putting women in businesses also encourages those businesses to cater to women as consumers, giving both female workers and consumers economic power and greater autonomy. On a macro level, the significant economic power that Muslim women wield works to break down patriarchal beliefs and reshape the way women are seen in the Muslim world and elsewhere: no longer as second class citizens, but an equal to men.
At the time of writing, there are fifty million Muslim women in the workforce, with more entering each day. Saadia’s book is an inspiring call for women – Muslim or not – to realize the power they hold in their hand and demand a seat at the table wherever they go.
– Get the book here