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Changing Roles of Muslim Women in the USA

29 June 2012 General No Comment Email This Post Email This Post
Wayne State University Professor Dr. Saeed Khan, Author Anne Doyle, WDET Radio Host Craig Fahle and WSU Lecturer Layla Saatchi in the studios of Detroit's NPR station.

Wayne State University Professor Dr. Saeed Khan, Author Anne Doyle, WDET Radio Host Craig Fahle and WSU Lecturer Layla Saatchi in the studios of Detroit’s NPR station.

by Anne Doyle, Forbes

You might not think of Detroit as an epicenter of  insight about the changing roles of Muslim women in the United States.  It’s best known to the world as the home of Motown Music and the U.S. auto industry, with Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Chrysler all headquartered here.

But metropolitan Detroit , where I live these days, is also home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans outside of the Mideast — over 400,000.  Mosques, great Mideastern food and women clad in the hijab (headscarf) and even head-to-toe in burqas are common sites.

The growing presence of Arabs, Muslims and fellow citizens raised with Islamic traditions and perspectives creates multiple opportunities to move out of our comfort zones and “Drink at Dangerous Waters,” as I write in my leadership book, POWERING UP!

But rich yet complex cultural differences between Western and Islamic thinking and practices, particularly around gender roles, are often at the heart of misunderstanding, discomfort and distrust so many Americans feel toward people, now often neighbors, we have just begun to understand.

Recently, our terrific Detroit National Public Radio Talk Show host, Craig Fahle, led a courageous and fascinating on-air conversation about the changing roles of Muslim women.

I was honored to be part of the discussion with Wayne State University‘s professor Dr. Saeed Khan and lecturer Layla Saatchi, both with deep expertise and personal experience in the cultural collisions underway around this topic.

My perspective was that of a Western-educated, American who has just returned from the International Women’s Forum’s global Cornerstone Conference — Morocco and the Future of the Arab World — held in Rabat.  I was given the opportunity to both open and wrap-up the discussion, but also learned so much from listening to the perspective of Saeed Khan and Layla Saatchi.

 Click here to listen. 

Anne Doyle is a Michigan City Councilwoman, a keynote speaker and the author of POWERING UP! How America’s Women Achievers Become Leaders. She has been tested in multiple-leadership laboratories, including men’s sports locker rooms, the auto industry, political office and parenting (which she insists is “the toughest!).  Signed copies of her book are available at: www.annedoylestrategies.com;facebook.com/poweringupwomenbook.

Original post: Changing Roles of Muslim Women in the USA

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