Malay women are among the most emancipated in the Islamic world. They often attain prominent roles in business, academia and other areas of public life, and lack neither confidence nor social skills, as a visit to any Malay-run shop, hotel or market stall will attest. Malay women are also very much the lynchpin of the family, and husbands often give way to their wives in domestic matters.
Although the more conservative tide running through the Islamic world has had relatively little impact on this situation, many Malay women now wear a tudung (headscarf). Sometimes this merely indicates an acceptance of the trappings of the religion or the desire to please parents – it’s not unusual to see Malay women at a club partying away in the unlikely combination of headscarf, skimpy T-shirt and tight jeans.