Women, Faith & Justice: Framing an Islamic Approach to Gender & Development
For activists and NGOs engaging in the field of development, human rights and justice, the role of religion – Islam and others – in transforming the beliefs and lived realities of people at the grassroots is often viewed as obstructive and limiting. Religion is considered from the outside, and indeed often used by believers, as a reference and framework with which to resist notions of gender equality and female emancipation. Activists, practitioners and academics have articulated many examples, especially in relation to Muslim populations, where Islam is often used as an explanation – or a justification – for violence and discrimination against women. For those working towards justice in these contexts, such simplistic and essentialised narratives are unhelpful. For progress in many contexts, reductionist assumptions such as ‘Islam is patriarchy’ or ‘Islam is emancipation’ are not helpful. Rather, a deep, nuanced and honest analysis of the diversity of Islamic interpretation and Muslim practice is necessary to fully engage and satisfy communities and practitioners both in policy and practice.
McDonald, L (2013) Women, Faith & Justice: Framing an Islamic Approach to Gender & Development., Islamic Relief Worldwide, Birmingham, [Online] Available: http://policy.islamic-relief.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Islam-Gender-and-Development-Working-Paper.pdf