Approaches to Promoting Women’s Rights from a Conservative Islamist Perspective
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Restrictions on women’s rights are a common challenge in conservative Islamic societies; while these societies are often highly patriarchal, religion (Islam) is typically used to justify such restrictions. Attempts to overcome these using Western, liberal values largely fail because they are seen as alien and anti-Islam. This has led to the emergence of movements demanding rights for women based on Islam – the argument made is that Islamic sources have been interpreted historically by male scholars in a misogynistic manner. Reinterpreting these from a modern, feminist perspective can give women rights – and the Islamic origin of these makes them acceptable. Islamic feminists also cite historic examples of Muslim women playing leading roles, e.g. in the judiciary, to overcome resistance to women’s empowerment. Another approach is mobilising support from men, especially male religious leaders. Such approaches have been applied successfully in a number of Muslim countries, including Egypt to obtain the right to divorce for women, and Morocco where state-certified female Islamic scholars (Murshidat) promote a liberal, tolerant Islam. This review looks at approaches to promoting women’s empowerment in conservative, Islamic countries. It is based largely on academic papers as well as some grey literature and media reports. There is quite extensive literature on Islamic feminism, and some on the experience in different Muslim countries. However, this is largely focused on promoting women’s rights in relation to family/personal matters, as well as political participation, and far less on women’s economic empowerment. While reference was found to children/youth in the context of female empowerment (e.g. right to education) the review did not come across specific examples of promoting the rights of youth and children in conservative, Islamic societies. The available literature obviously had a gender focus, but was disability-blind.
CitationIdris, I. (2022). Approaches to gender/inclusion from conservative Islamist perspective. K4D Helpdesk Report 1220. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies. DOI: 10.19088/K4D.2022.141
Is part of seriesK4D Helpdesk Report;1220
Rights holder© Crown copyright 2022
SponsorForeign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)
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