Using Islam to Promote Women’s Rights

“In many conservative Islamic societies Islam and religion are being used as a justification against women, but now it’s also being used by more and more people as a justification for change,” said Isobel Coleman, senior fellow and director of the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations, at an appearance May 5th at IPI.
Ms. Coleman was speaking at a Beyond the Headlines event based on her new book Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East.

The change in the Middle East that she was focusing on – and the central premise of her book – is that women are pressing for their rights within the context of Islam and successfully countering the denigration of their actions as insulting to Islam.

These are women who want equality but also want to practice their Muslim faith. They are in effect Islamic feminists, Ms. Coleman said, though she added that they would abhor that description of themselves.

Moderating the conversation was Warren Hoge, IPI’s Vice President for External Relations.

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