Over at openDemocracy, Rahila Gupta discusses the significance of the upcoming British elections with respect to the fraught intersection of women’s rights and religion. While casual observers of British politics on this side of the Atlantic view New Labour as more liberal or progressive (at least on the issues of gender) than its forerunner, Gupta argues that it is not so, especially when one looks at the uptick in state-funding for religious schools under New Labour, which she suggests has been catastrophic for the cause of women’s rights and the rights of minority women in particular. As she writes:
Roughly one third of state schools are religious in character. Until 1997 when Labour was elected all state faith schools were Christian or Jewish. Since then, 14 new Jewish schools, 11 Muslim schools, 4 Sikh and 1 Hindu school have been state funded. Funding initiatives targeted at the religious lobby, now innocuously dubbed faith based organisations (FBOs), have formed a central part of the government’s strategy to boost this sector. A capacity building fund which ran from 2006-2008 was worth £10.5m to faith groups. The Regional Faith forums and Faiths in Action programme will together provide £7.5m to promote understanding and dialogue between faith groups from 2009-2011.
Read the full piece here.