Gambian Government’s Ramadan Declaration Angers Feminists

Feminists in The Gambia have slammed a government memo issued during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that stated women working in government should return home early to prepare Iftar, the traditional breaking of the fast during Ramadan, after sunset.

Gambian feminists took to social media to protest against the declaration, arguing that it perpetuates the stereotype of women doing chores at home while the man works.

This created a backlash, with many accusing feminists of being against the Islamic traditions and the cultures of Gambian society.

Gender Roles

Islamic scholar Taha Muhammed Ceesay is one of many who does not agree that housework must be handled by women.

“Sometimes we don’t appreciate what women are doing in the home because we don’t know whether it’s an obligation on them or not,” says Ceesay. “In Islam, it is not an obligation for women to cook every day or to wash clothes.”

House chores is one of the many tasks that keep women from realising their potential and improving their personal development, according to research published by Frontiers in Psychology journal.

Islam & feminism

Ceesay says denouncing feminism as un-Islamic is wrong, and that even during the time of the Prophet Mohamed, women fought for their rights when they were violated.

“If women see that men are not respecting their rights, they have right to ask for this. That happened during the time of Omar Ibn Khattab,” he says, referring to the father-in-law of the Prophet Mohamed, one of the most influential caliphs in history.