French government awards Zainah Anwar its highest honour

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Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 12.28.43KUALA LUMPUR: The French Government has awarded the highest French honour, the  Legion d’Honneur to the Sisters in Islam co-founder, Zainah Anwar.

The title was conferred to Zainah by the French Ambassador, her excellency, Martine Dorance at the French Embassy on Friday.

“This title is the oldest and of the highest honour in France and was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.

“Back then it was presented to both men and women for their exemplary services to the country and today the French authority would like to reward the efforts of Zainah and Sisters in Islam,” she said.

Martine said that Malaysia as a nation has come a long way in terms of defending the rights of women.

“At least 70 to 80 per cent of girls go to high school and women represent half of the working population, in addition to having a voice in politics.

“There still is a lot of work to be done, however I am glad that the civil and principal rights of women are protected in the nation,” she said adding that contributions from people like Zainah make it possible.

Martine stressed that Zainah along with the members of Sisters of Islam have for decades fought for the rights and freedom of women in addition to helping empowerMuslim women around the world.

“By helping Muslim women, Zainah in turn has helped all women around the world, which is why we take great honour in conferring her with the title of “Chevalier De La Legion D’Honneur”,” she said during the event which also celebrated the International Women’s Day 2014.

Zainah following the presentation of the award exclaimed her gratitude to the embassy for recognising the efforts of the advocacy group.

“This award means the recognition of the courage of Sisters in Islam and all of us who were driven by nothing other than passion and outrage,” she said.

Zainah shared that the organisation started with eight members and was operated from her home and today has grown to a membership of 31.

“It truly is overwhelming to see young women and men now fighting for what SIS has fought for all along.

“We still want the same thing, for women to be treated with dignity and equality and we will continue fighting for it,” she added.

Zainah also thanked all her family members who stood by her and supported her when she was under pressure from those opposed to her cause.

“Even when the police were at my doorstep, my family respected my beliefs and stood by me and I will be forever grateful,” she said.

By D.Kanyakumari


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