Islam is not one of the religions that come to mind when one thinks of providing equal status for women. Its rules about their dress and behavior in public are notorious for their restrictiveness. But at the same time, as Juan Cole points out, there is the curious phenomenon that many Muslim-majority countries have had women as their leaders, almost all of them elected to office. Here’s his list.
Tansu Çiller, elected prime minister of Turkey, 1993-1996
Benazir Bhutto, elected prime minister of Pakistan 1988-1990, 1993-1996
Mame Madior Boye, appointed prime minister of Senegal, 2001-2002.
Megawati Sukarnoputri, elected president of Indonesia, 2001-2004
Khaleda Zia, elected prime minister of Bangladesh, 1991-1996 and 2001-2006
Sheikh Hasina, elected prime minister of Bangladesh 2009-
Roza Otunbayeva, president of Kyrgyzstan, 2010- 2011
Atifete Jahjaga, elected president of Kosovo 2011-
I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton whom the media seem to have anointed as the inevitable winner of the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. But the idea that there is even a discussion in the US that she may be problematic for the office merely because she is a woman is a sign of how backward US politics is.