'Yet did you know that Turkey, Indonesia, and Bangladesh, all Muslim majority states have had more elected female heads of state than almost every other Western country?'
It is true that there have been seven female heads of state in Muslim-majority countries, but a closer inspection would reveal this has little to do with female empowerment and often has much more to do with the political power of certain families in under-developed parts of the world.
It is well-known that Benazir Bhutto, a woman, was democratically elected in Pakistan. What is not as well-known is that her advancement had much to do with her family’s power in her party (Pakistan People’s Party) and little to do with female empowerment. Her father was once Prime Minister of Pakistan, and she was elected to the position fresh from her exile in the West with little political experience of her own. After her assassination, her nineteen year old son assumed leadership of her political party — as was expected by many familiar with the power their family continued to hold.
Similarly, Sheikh Hasina (the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh) is the daughter of the founding father of the country, Sheikh Mujibur-Rehman. Khaleda Zia, the predecessor of Sheikh Hasina, assumed power over her party after the assassination of her husband — the seventh President of Bangladesh.
In addition, Megawati Sukarnopotri, former President of Indonesia, was the daughter of Sukarno, the founding father of Indonesia.
To anyone familiar with women’s rights around the world, neither Pakistan, Bangladesh, nor Indonesia can be considered states with a stellar track record. It is likely that in these cases, the power of political dynasties was the key factor in their success.
Furthermore, female heads of state were elected democratically in Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, and Kosovo. But, as before, a closer inspection reveals a complicated reality. All three states are secular, where religion was forcibly uprooted from the government — due to Atatürk (in the case of Turkey) or Communism (in the cases of Kyrgyzstan and Kosovo).
Predictably, the writer fails to mention any of this.