Whose Gender Equality? On the Boundaries of Islam and Feminism in the MENA Region
In contemporary Muslim postcolonial countries, the term gender equality resonates as an appealing international principle for many politicians. However, for many Islamist and conservative forces, the term triggers suspicion and hostility on the ground that it serves as a western product that infringes cultural specificities and threatens the gendered parameters of the Muslim family. This chapter seeks to examine the different ways gender equality is perceived in CEDAW and in the Islamic Sharia as two distinct paradigms that inform feminist activism in the MENA region, and how they shape trajectories of women’s empowerment and/or marginalization. The chapter argues that while many ideo-political, developmental and legislatives situations in the region overlap to constitute ambivalent states for women’s rights, authors and theologians have managed to push the boundaries of Islam and feminism towards possibilities of Islamizing feminism and feminizing Islam. Given the assorted experiences of MENA region countries, this chapter draws on a number of attitudes expressed by feminist activists who manifest the philosophical, political and ideological grounds that underpin the meaning of equality in their contexts.
KeywordsGender equality Islam Feminism CEDAW Sharia Islamic feminism
- Abdel-Aziz, Z. (2013). Proceedings of the seminar: The intellectual background of family studies. Organized by the Center of Family Studies and Research in Values and Laws. Casablanca: Annajah New Press.Google Scholar
- Aghamajidi, T., & Kadkhodaei, M. (2017). The comparison of the Islamic and Western human rights. Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods, 7(8), 360–371.Google Scholar
- Badran, M. (2009). Feminism in Islam: Secular and religious convergences. Oxford: Oneworld Publications.Google Scholar
- Barlas, A. (2002). Believing women in Islam: Unreading patriarchal interpretations of the Qur’ān. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
- Bayat, A. (2013). Post-Islamism at large. In Post-Islamism: The changing faces of political Islam. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Benkhaldoun, S. (2011). Hal taghayarat Ahkam Achari’a Al Islamiya Almota’aliqa bi Al-Osra (Did prescriptions of Shari’a about the family change?). http://www.hespress.com/orbites/38846.html. Accessed 15 March 2019.
- Bouzghaia, I. (2012). The feminist movement and social change in Morocco: Trends and impacts. Saarbrucken: Lap Lambert Academic Publishing.Google Scholar
- Bouzghaia, I. (2019). Gender equality and family solidarity in Morocco between Islamic values and feminist agendas: Rabat region as a case study (Unpublished thesis). Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, Fes.Google Scholar
- CEDAW. (1979). Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. https://www.ohchr.org/documents/professionalinterest/cedaw.pdf.
- Chant, C. (2006). Re‐thinking the “feminization of poverty” in relation to aggregate gender indices. Special issue: Revisiting the gender‐related development index. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 7(2), 201–220.Google Scholar
- Cooke, M. (2001). Women claim Islam: Creating Islamic feminism through literature. NewYork: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Democratic Association of the Moroccan Women. (2013). The withdrawal of the reservations to CEDAW by Morocco. Press release. http://www.adfm.ma/spip.php?article695&var_recherche=reservation&lang=en. Accessed 26 October 2018.
- Djavad, S. I. (2016). Human development in the Middle East and North Africa. In S. N. Durlauf & L. E. Blume (Eds.), The new Palgrave dictionary of economics. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Fattah, M. A. (2006). Democratic values in the Muslim world. Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers.Google Scholar
- Gallup. (2006). Perspectives of women in the Muslim world. Special report: Muslim world. https://www.mostresource.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/146/2013/08/gallup_5_women_in_the_muslim_world.pdf. Accessed 3 March 2019.
- Ghosh, H. A. (2008). Dilemmas of Islamic and secular feminists and feminism. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 9(3), 99–116.Google Scholar
- Gray, D. (2015). Beyond feminism and Islamism: Gender and equality in North Africa. International Library of African Studies. I.B. Tauris. Reprint edition.Google Scholar
- Grob, L., Hassan, R., & Gordon, H. (1991). Women’s and men’s liberation: Testimonies of spirit. New York: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
- Hassan, R. (2008). Are human rights compatible with Islam? http://www.religiousconsultation.org.hassan2.html. Accessed 06 August 2019.
- Hidayatullah, A. (2014). Feminist edges of the Qur an. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Inglehart, R., Haerpfer, C., Moreno, A., Welzel, C., Kizilova, K., Diez-Medrano, J., et al. (Eds.). (2014). World values survey: Round six: Country-pooled datafile version. Madrid: JD Systems Institute. www.worldvaluessurvey.org/WVSDocumentationWV6.jsp.
- Lamrabet, A. (2016). Croyantes et féministes, un autre regard sur les religions. Casablanca: Éditions La croisée des chemins.Google Scholar
- Margaret, Y. S. (2005). Women in Islam. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.Google Scholar
- Mernissi, F. (1991). Preface to the English edition. In The veil and the male elite: A feminist interpretation of women’s rights in Islam. New York: Perseus Publishing.Google Scholar
- Mir-Hosseini, Z. (2000). Islam and gender: The religious debate in contemporary Iran. London and New York: I.B. Tauris.Google Scholar
- Mirza, Q. (2008). Islamic feminism and gender equality: Thoughts and perceptions. ISIM Review, 21, 30–31. https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl.
- Moghadam, V. (2000). Islamic feminism and the politics of naming. Iran Bulletin.Google Scholar
- Moghadam, V. (2003). Modernizing women: Gender and social change in the Middle East. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.Google Scholar
- Moghissi, H. (1999). Feminism and Islamic fundamentalism: The limits of postmodern analysis. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
- Naji Mekkaoui, R. (2011). Rajae Mekkaoui Taroddo ala Lkhaaifin min Tifakiyat Rafe Tamyiz dida Lmaraa [Rajae Mekkaoui answers those afraid of the CEDAW]. Akhbar Alyawm Newspaper, 16 November.Google Scholar
- Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. (2013). The world’s Muslims: Religion, politics and society. http://www.pewforum.org/files/2013/04/worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-full-report.pdf. Accessed 1 March 2019.
- Pruzan-Jørgensen, J. E. (2012). Islamic women’s activism in the Arab world. DIIS Report 2012:02. Copenhagen: Danish Institute for International Studies. www.diis.dk.
- Rahman, F. (1998). Health and medicine in the Islamic tradition. Chicago: ABC International Group (Kazi Publications).Google Scholar
- Sadiqi, F. (Ed.). (2016). The center: A post-revolution space for women’s movements in North Africa: Morocco as an example. In Women’s movements in post-“Arab spring” North Africa (pp. 15–30). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Talabi, M. (2013). The conflict over values: A philosophical and historical view [Assira’ hawla Al-qiyam. Ro’ya falsafiya wa tarikhiya]. Rabat: Moroccan Center for Contemporary Research and Studies.Google Scholar
- The Islamic Charter on Family. http://www.iicwc.org/lagna/iicwc/iicwc.php?id=872. Accessed 1 March 2019.
- UN. (1999). General recommendation No. 25, on article 4, paragraph 1, of the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, on temporary special measures. http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/recommendations/General%20recommendation%2025%20(English).pdf. Accessed 4 March 2019.
- UN Women. Declarations, reservations and objections to CEDAW. http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/reservations-country.htm. Accessed 26 March 2019.
- Wadud, W. (2000). Alternative Qur’anic interpretation. In G. Webb (Ed.), Windows of faith: Muslim women scholar-activists in North America (Women and gender in North American religions) (pp. 3–21). Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
- Zvan Elliott, K. (2015). Modernizing patriarchy: The politics of women’s rights in Morocco. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar