Arab society remains deeply traditional, and what religious leaders say carries a lot of weight, explains Frej, who sat on the parliamentary committee that nominated Khatib. "There really is no such thing as a secular Muslim," he says. "So for real change in Muslim society, you need the religious establishment to support it. So it is significant that you have religious law saying it's OK for women to be a sharia court judge. That means that gender equality can improve in other parts of life, as well."