Prominent American Muslim scholars from the US-based Karamah organization led a 12-day Institute on Law, Leadership, and Conflict Resolution program for 34 female madrasa teachers and community leaders from across Mindanao, in addition to delegates from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Singapore. The US Embassy in the Philippines sponsored the endeavor with Miriam College’s Women and Gender Institute (Wagi) serving as program host.
Guided by Karamah founder Dr. Aziza al-Hibri and other leading American Muslim scholars, participants explored women’s leadership roles in the Islamic world with particular emphasis on conflict resolution and peace building in Muslim communities, while developing practical skills to advocate successfully for peace and development in their communities.
KARAMAH scholars also shared their experiences in strengthening American Muslim communities with a wide range of Muslim and non-Muslim audiences. To mark International Women’s Day, the scholars discussed the role of women in Muslim communities with 80 imams from Mindanao and Manila at the University of the Philippines (UP) Institute of Islamic Studies. Additional programs focused on navigating between civil law and Muslim family traditions, improving relations with law enforcement, encouraging Muslim women to engage in the political sphere, and promoting student leadership.
As a direct follow on to the Institute, participants will lead service projects in their communities to address local barriers to peace and development. One participant remarked, “Muslims in the Philippines are a minority, just like Muslims in the United States. Through this program I learned how to be a role model and show to all Muslims that even if we are a minority, we can do something for peace, justice, and women’s rights.”
The KARAMAH Institute is just one example of the US government’s response to the Marawi crisis and support for Mindanao. To date, the US government has announced more than P1.2 billion for recovery and rehabilitation of Marawi and surrounding areas.