The struggle for women’s rights within the ranks of Islamic organisations has created a space for Islamist women to explore the opportunities that are the product of modern women’s rights movements around the world.
These views were shared by Amina Jamal, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Ryerson University, Canada, while speaking at a seminar on ‘Islam: South Asian Muslim Women’s Struggles and Transnational Feminist Practices.’ The event was organised by the International Islamic University, Female Campus, in collaboration with Iqbal International Institute Research and Dialogue.
In her interesting talk on ‘Feminism and Fundamentalism: A Transnational Feminist Perspective’, she analysed the dynamics of feminism in Pakistan and said that women rights movement is quite active in Pakistan under different types of gendered political subjects like secular, religious, feminist and fundamentalist.
Amina also shared some aspects of her research on status of women rights in Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). She concluded that there are strong indicators that JI women have a balanced approach towards women and development as they engage in politics and social work as done by the secular feminists and prioritise nation state, another aspect that substantiates the argument that they follow modern development approach.
She said that JI women have started giving a serious consideration to the socio-economic aspects of development and its relationship with woman and they organise seminars and talks on modern basis. “It is a healthy sign that they have started slowly occupying the space created for women as a result of modern development practices,” she pointed out.
Highlighting another trend among Islamist women, she said that they have developed a dislike towards modern terminologies that are related to women like women rights and feminism etc. “One logical reason for this dislike is that these terminologies have been used by the world powers to continue their legacies of colonialism and imperialism,” she said.
Amina briefed the participants about the paradigm of women and development which was created after it was realised that women have always been neglected in the development process and said that it provides a space for Islamist women to explore new opportunities. She urged the social science practitioners to recognise the different forms of feminist movements in Pakistan and adopt reflexivity towards secular-religious dichotomy.
The participants of the seminar were of the opinion that Islam is a modern religion and protects the rights of women. They stressed the need for bringing women in the mainstream to ensure sustainable development in the country.
Earlier, Director Female Campus Qaisra H. Alvi welcomed the guests. She said that there are 10,000 women students in the Islamic University. “It is important for these students to have dialogue on these subjects so that they can develop a deep understanding around these issues,” she said.