Muslims Push Equality; Judge’s Bias Probed in Trial

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersOver 350 Muslim women from 47 countries gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this week to launch a global campaign for equality, the BBC reported Feb. 18, placing reforms to family laws in Muslim nations around the world at the heart of their agenda. The women have started a new organization called Musawah, which means “equality” in Arabic, to push their cause forward.”I believe that Islam has given women equal rights and equal faith,” Saudi women’s rights activist Hatoon Alfassi told the BBC, adding that it is appropriate to criticize and challenge authorities who restrict women. The application of Islamic family law varies across nations, but may deny women the freedom to marry the partner of their choice or to travel or receive an education without permission of a male guardian.The conference, organized by the Malaysian group Sisters in Islam, was held in the same week as the appointment of the first women to a government ministerial post in Saudi Arabia, Agence France-Presse reported Feb. 15.

Women’s Basketball Gains; Gay Cleric Put on Trial

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersWomen’s college-level basketball is gaining popularity amongst live and television audiences.The National Collegiate Athletic Association women’s basketball tournament begins this Saturday, and The New York Times has reported that the competition is attracting more crowds to its live games and registering higher-then-ever television ratings. The upswing is likely to continue with more young female players training for national competition-level basketball and four women’s college teams having rated No. 1 on The Associated Press Poll of college teams since January 5.”The women’s game is evolving at a rapid rate and at a high level, much like the men did in the early 1980’s,” says Doug Elgin, commissioner of the Missouri Valley Conference that hosts programs and competitions for student athletes. “Much of it has to do with numbers–more young girls are playing and getting better instruction at earlier ages.”There has also been an increase in enrollment by female basketball stars in colleges other than the traditional basketball colleges–Connecticut, Stanford, Tennessee–indicating a wider range of educational possibilities for upcoming competitors.The rise in recognition comes at the same time as a drop in interest in men’s college basketball. With more college-level players jumping to the National Basketball Association, and fewer basketball stars attending college, the state of the men’s game is in decline at a college level.JeersProtesters have been arrested outside a church trial that may remove a lesbian minister from her post at a Methodist church in Bothell, Wash.Rev. Karen Dammann, who leads the Bothell United Methodist Church, was married last week to her partner of nine years, Meredith Savage, in Portland, Oregon, where the Multnomah County officials have begun allowing same sex marriages, reports The Associated Press.