On December 11, Time Magazine named Pope Francis its 2013 “Person of the Year.” The award, according to Time, seeks to honor the person or group who, “for better or for worse,” has most influenced the events of that year.
Posts Tagged ‘women’s rights’
On October 7th, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakul Karman, three women who have worked to foster peace and gender equality in Africa and the Arab world. Johnson Sirleaf, the President of Liberia, and Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist, are both featured in the film Pray the Devil Back to Hell, which aired on October 18th on PBS as part of the “Women, War and Peace” series.
The global feminist blog Gender Across Borders, in partnership with Violence is Not Our Culture: the Global Campaign to End Violence Against Women in the Name of ‘Culture,’ is seeking writers for an upcoming series on gender-based violence, culture, and women’s rights. The series will run on October 27th and 28th, and will feature personal narratives, profiles, book reviews, journalistic articles, analytical pieces, critical essays, and editorials.
April 3rd marks the first day of the 2011 Carter Center Human Rights Defenders Forum. The theme for this year’s forum is Religion, Belief, and Women’s Rights. The formal conference on April 5-6 will be webcast live on the Carter Center’s website, and select portions of the conference will be live tweeted by Carter Center staff. Follow the Carter Center’s twitter feed @CarterCenter and join in the discussion at #Women’sRights11.
Tuesday marked the first day of the 55th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women meeting. In addition to conversation about the annual and review themes, the question of women’s right and roles following revolutions in the Middle East has been a key topic of conversation. UN Women hosts a panel today (February 25th) titled, “Breaking New Ground: Arab Women and the Path to Democracy.” Find out how to attend or watch the webcast online here.
Is secular feminism feasible in the Middle East and throughout the Muslim-majority nations of the world? Isobel Coleman, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that it cannot subsist on its own and that it must be allied with a form of Islamic feminism. In her most recent book, Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East, she argues that we are already witnessing the emergence of many progressive social movements within the Islamic world.
Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, the influential and controversial Lebanese Shi‘i spiritual leader, died Sunday morning in Beirut at age 75. Though his oft-attributed spiritual leadership of the political party/militant group Hezbollah has been called into question, he was a vastly influential marja (a Shi‘i religious authority) throughout the Shi‘i world community. He was considered a terrorist by much of the Western world with ties to the “1983 bombings of two barracks in Beirut in which 241 United States Marines and 58 French paratroopers were killed.” He narrowly escaped assassination attempts in 1985 and 2006. While he sympathized with terrorist inclinations and vehemently spoke out against the U.S. and Israel, he also supported many progressive Islamic notions. He advocated for women’s rights, was well respected in the female community, and spoke out against the Iranian model.
On July 13, French parliament will vote on a bill to ban burqa-style veils in the name of gender equality and secular values. More than advocating for women’s rights and a “state-sanctioned Islam that respects the secular state,” this particular version of the bill also implicates “husbands and fathers who impose such veils on female family members.”
In her article, “The Persistence of Patriarchy,” subtitled Hard to believe, but some churches are still talking about male headship, founding member of the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus, Anne Eggebroten laments the institutionalized gender inequality still present in some Christian services and lifestyles.
While in the past women’s human rights activists have admitted a certain skepticism about religion, my recent experience at the UN Commission on the Status of Women meeting and the US National Committee for UNIFEM annual meeting tell a slightly different story. As I heard at several panel discussions, religious organizations are still seen by some as “strange bedfellows” in terms of serving as partners in work related to violence against women. However, religious actors and organizations are increasingly being invited to the table and “religion” and “culture” are becoming an integral part of the conversation. This makes me wonder. . . . what does a turn to these “strange bedfellows” of religion and culture do for women’s human rights?
Over at openDemocracy, Rahila Gupta discusses the significance of the upcoming British elections with respect to 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), 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.
At Reuters‘s Afghan Journal, Golnar Motevalli asks how reintegrating the Taliban might affect the already tenuous position women inhabit in Afghan public life.
In a somewhat surprising move, Turkey’s Constitutional Court announced today in a very close vote its decision to not ban the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP)—which was facing charges of threatening the laicist order of the country—but only to cut its financial state support. Despite the relatively moderate decision, the verdict presented by the President of the Constitutional Court sent a clear warning to the AKP that the judiciary will not tolerate any subversion of the laicist order. […]
If the state is going to enforce any principle from Islamic sources, according to Abdullahi An-Na‘im, then it should implement the principle that the state should not enforce Islamic principles. This is the crux of An-Na‘im’s new book, Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari‘a. An-Na‘im, a renowned Islamic scholar and human rights activist, is a leading member of the generation of Muslim intellectuals that came to prominence in the 1980s as critics of both Islamist revolutionaries and post-colonial dictators. According to An-Na‘im, the secular state is not just a good thing on public-policy grounds; it is also justified on Islamic grounds. […]
In Turkey, the headscarf is usually taken as an emblem of tradition and backwardness, and its removal from public life is associated with modernization and progress. Such an approach to the headscarf turns the issue into an insoluble problem. […]
The analysis of the headscarf controversy cannot simply be based on arguments of liberal politics. Rather, it has to be analyzed within its historical context. In Turkey, the headscarf has assumed a symbolic character that refers to different historical memories and different understandings of modernity. For both sides of this conflict, the headscarf is at the center of the debate because the debate is, in its essence, about gender relations.
Women who are proponents of the headscarf distance themselves from secular models of feminist emancipation, but also seek autonomy from male interpretations of Islamic precepts. They represent a rupture of the frame both of secular female self-definitions and religious male prescriptions. They want to have access to secular education, follow new life trajectories that are not in conformity with traditional gender roles, and yet fashion and assert a new pious self. They are searching for ways to become Muslim and modern at the same time, transforming both.
Turkey’s ban of the headscarf on university campuses — rather than the headscarf itself — has become a serious impediment to women’s participation in economic and professional life. Three-quarters of Turkey’s female population covers in some fashion. The ruling Muslim-inflected Justice and Development Party (known by its Turkish acronym AKP) made a deal this week with the nationalist MHP in parliament to secure enough votes to eliminate the ban. […]
In Turkey there is now a great deal of controversy about proposed revisions to the constitution that would include lifting the ban on the wearing of Islamic headscarves in universities. Many commentators have taken this to be an ominous sign of the intention of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, who represent the Justice and Development Party (AKP), to undermine Turkey’s secular republic in the interests of establishing an Islamist state. In Turkey, as elsewhere in Europe, the headscarf has become a symbol not only of political Islam, but of the oppression of women. […]