NPR Interviews Lekovic About Women in American Mosques

January 15, 2014

On Wednesday, Jan. 15, Edina Lekovic, MPAC’s Director of Policy and Programming, was featured in a story on NPR’s All Things Considered, which focused on the physical and symbolic space for women in American mosques.

Additionally, the story featured an online project called Side Entrance launched by Chicago-based activist Hind Makki. Last year, Makki asked women from around the world to share photos of their prayer spaces. Submissions ranged from isolated, moldy storerooms to soaring, lushly carpeted halls, and a public conversation ensued on social media, which has also spread to broader community conversations.

SEE: “Muslim Women Challenge American Mosques: 'Now Is the Time' ” (NPR)

Makki said the online project began when she posted photos of women's prayer spaces from some Chicago mosques on her Facebook page. The photos ranged from one of women praying behind a tall divider to a walk-in closet prayer space with covered windows to prayer halls where women pray in the same open-air space.

The photos went viral.

In the article, Lekovic said this conversation is about more than the entrance to the mosque.

"Part of what's at stake is the question of where Muslim women will put their talents,” she said. “Now, if the mosque is an environment in which they see that the fruits of their labor will be beneficial to the community, they will put their time and energy there.”

This past year, one of MPAC’s platform issues was women’s empowerment. Starting with a women and girls retreat in Irvine, CA, which focused on “Discovering Your Best Self,” MPAC organized forums, programs and legislative campaigns. MPAC also launched a national campaign to mobilize American Muslims to work for the passage of Reauthorization of the 2013 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and, in recognized for its work on this important piece of legislation, MPAC was invited by the White House to witness the signing ceremony.

The online project, Side Entrance, and the NPR story are bringing much-needed attention to the situation of equality of space and the role of American Muslim women in the broader community.

The NPR article reported that national Muslim leaders are paying attention.

“The Islamic Society of North America is urging mosques to recruit more female board members, and a recent conference centered on a campaign to improve women's prayer spaces.”

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