Madhavi Sunder opened the conference by explaining some of the concerns that inspired it. In talks about democracy in the Muslim world, Muslim self-determination has been set up in opposition to equality for women and other democratic concerns, such as freedom of speech, but a recent Gallup pole has shown that large numbers of people in Muslim countries (or countries with large Muslim populations) favor equal rights for women. The problem, it seems, is not convincing the Muslim world of the democratic egalitarian vision. The question is how to bring this into practice effectively. There are many pressing questions that will be addressed today at this exciting conference. What are the problems with making the promise of democracy and equality a reality? What does it mean to be an Islamic feminist and how is this related to secular feminism? What is the role of outsiders in these movements? Prof. Sunder notes that often the distinction between insiders and outsiders is overdrawn. Western conceptions of equality and democracy have informed Muslim thinkers throughout history. Non-interference is not only non-option; it is dangerous. It affirms the views of fundamentalists and obscures the influence the West has had in these areas.