“We have given dignity to the children of Adam.”

-The Noble Qur’an, 17:70

On International Women’s Day, the world celebrates the social, political, and economic achievements of women's past, present, and future, while also pausing to acknowledge the challenges and obstacles yet to be overcome. WJP strategic partner KARAMAH, Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, is a U.S.-based non profit organization that derives its name from the Arabic term “karamah”, which means dignity.  Informed by the firm belief that a just society values the informed participation of its members through the pursuit of knowledge, access to opportunities, and equity among all “children of Adam”, regardless of gender or other differences, KARAMAH contributes to the understanding and promotion of human rights worldwide, specifically the rights of Muslim women under islamic and secular/civil law.  

Founded in 1993 by Dr. Azizah al-Hibri, KARAMAH’s initial mandate was to support the rights of Muslim women worldwide through education programs, jurisprudential scholarship, and the development of a network of Muslim jurists and leaders. Since 2003, KARAMAH has developed a set of intensive and highly-esteemed educational workshops in the U.S. and abroad.  These programs offer a core set of courses about the gender-equitable principles of Islamic law, and help participants develop leadership and conflict resolution skills. The training aims to equip women with the tools necessary to make a beneficial difference from within their own religious contexts. 

KARAMAH empowers Muslim women and the broader community through programs, legal outreach, and dialogue, all emanating from an educational core. Through a focus on diversity in Islamic scholarship, the organization has mobilized Muslim women jurists and created space for previously unacknowledged and underrepresented voices, bridging gaps within and between faiths, cultures, and communities. 

Four internationally renowned workshops and training modules make up the bulk of KARAMAH’s legal education programming, ranging from short three day sessions to the three week Law and Leadership Summer Program (LLSP), attracting women from 16 different countries  and focusing on three core areas - Islamic law, Conflict resolution, and Leadership. After graduating from KARAMAH’s programs, alumnae have returned to their communities to serve as leaders, to share their knowledge, and to work for positive change in their communities, sending a ripple of impact affecting women’s lives around the world.  

Online, KARAMAH provides a host of resources for Muslim women--and women affected by Islamic law--including research and scholarship, a directory of social services in the United States, and a network portal filed with jurists, speakers, and KARAMAH alumnae. Additionally, KARAMAH runs the ‘Ask Zahra’ advice column, welcoming questions and assistance on many issues of importance to Muslim women. 

KARAMAH proves that when women are given the resources, training, and information they need to understand the systems that govern their lives, they have the ability to create positive change for entire communities.

Bethany L. McGann The World Justice Project
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