by Xandelyn Racel R. Baena
The College of Arts and Social Sciences celebrating its 35th Founding Anniversary launched DisCASSion, a series of lectures that will run until the month of April.
One of the lecture series was a whole day engagement with Dr. Asadullah, a visiting professor from the University of Malaya on the helm. In the morning he met with the faculty members of the CASS and had a roundtable discussion on “Coaching faculty members and senior/graduate students on reviewing research literature and publication in Scopus-ISI-indexed.” He generously gave research tips to the faculty to make their research more attractive to the Scopus-ISI-indexed publications.
In the afternoon, Dr. Asadullah did a lecture at the CED Amphitheater, attended by students and faculty of the institute. He interweaves the three concepts: Islam, Women and Development. As a professor of development economics, he said that “poverty is a common problem, its gender blind.” However, poverty for women does not necessarily begin with looking at the deprivation of income, but equates to deprivation of dignity and freedom.
At the start of his lecture, Dr. Asadullah sounded provoking in his presentation of data about negative correlations between women and Islam. Muslim countries tend to deprive the status of their women in terms of access in the labor market, politics and social participation. His numerical data stirred strong reactions from the listeners. It then became clear that it is not the faith (Islam) that is in question, but these patterns of women deprivation across Muslim countries do not go hand in hand with Islam. The problem is not Islam, but the structural factors that surround these countries. In Middle Eastern countries, Islamic values are often overshadowed by the “resource curse” and Arab autocracies and therefore producing a negative correlation between women and Islam.
Asadullah stressed that oil production in the Middle East has reduced female political influence since it is men who controls and dictates the production. He said that it is the Muslim countries that have problems with women’s well being/development and not Islam. He stressed that most of these countries whose status of women is poor, are in strict adherence to their social customs and norms that determine what to be and what to do in life and which ultimately violates the notion of freedom. Closing his lecture, Asadullah asserted that to change the lives of women is to empower them; giving them a chance to raise their voice and express their choices.
In the open forum, a question was raised asking which aspect should women be empowered. Dr. Asadullah strongly pronounced that it should be empowerment for women in politics. He said that with political power, women can correct and make room to empower their status in all other dimensions. Indeed, there were a lot of learning that the participants were able to take home after listening to Dr. Asadullah’s lecture. As MSU-IIT steps into world recognition as a leading university, Dr. Asadullah’s visit has put the institute into the right track.