Nike Hijab, The Caveat
A bit on women under Islam:
The many opportunities denied women under Islamic law, from equal testimony in court to the simple right to exclude other wives from their marital bed, is very clear proof that women are of lesser value then men in Islam. Muslim women are not even free to marry outside the faith - and some pay with their lives for doing so.
Islamic law also specifies that when a woman is murdered by a man, her family is owed only half as much "blood money" (diya) as they would be if she had been a man. (The life of a non-Muslim is generally assessed at one-third).
Although a man retains custody of his children in the event of his wife's death, a non-Muslim woman will automatically lose custody of her children in the event of her husband's death unless she converts to Islam or marries a male relative within his family.
Contemporary Muslims like to counter that Arabs treated women as camels prior to Muhammad. This is somewhat questionable, given that Muhammad's first wife was a wealthy woman who owned property and ran a successful business prior to ever meeting him. She was even his boss... (although that may have changed after the marriage). Still, it is somewhat telling that Islam's treatment of women can only be defended by contrasting it to an extremely primitive environment in which women were said to be non-entities.
Homa Darabi was a talented physician who took her own life by setting herself on fire in a public protest against the oppression of women in Islamic Iran. She did this after a 16-year-old girl was shot to death for wearing lipstick. In the book, Why We Left Islam, her sister includes a direct quote from one of the country's leading clerics:
"The specific task of women in this society is to marry and bear children. They will be discouraged from entering legislative, judicial, or whatever careers which may require decision-making, as women lack the intellectual ability and discerning judgment required for these careers."
Modern day cleric Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini has called for a return of the slave markets, where Muslim men can order concubines. In this man's ideal world, "when I want a sex-slave, I go to the market and pick whichever female I desire and buy her."
At best, Islam "elevates" the status of a woman to somewhere between that of a camel and a man.
More at the link, including Quran, Sira, and Hadith references.
Or, for the executive summary, here's Ayaan Hirsi-Ali, in her own words, at The Daily Beast:
As a moral and legal code, Sharia law is demeaning and degrading to women. It requires women to be placed under the care of male guardians; it views a woman's testimony in court as worth half that of a man's; and it permits a husband to beat his wife. It's not only women's legal and sexual freedoms that are curtailed under Sharia but their economic freedoms as well. Women generally inherit half of the amount that men inherit, and their male guardian must consent to their choosing education, work, or travel.
...This International Women's Day, we should protest the oppression of women who have no access to legal protections. We should support those Muslim reformers, such as Asra Nomani, Zuhdi Jasser, and Irshad Manji, who seek to reform Islam in line with full legal equality between men and women. And we should strive to overcome domestic political divisions to defend the universality of women's rights.
photo via @Roark86