Prose, Politics, and Power: Conversations with Muslim Women Leaders (video)
In 1996 Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI) hosted a forum called Beijing and Beyond, drawing Muslim women scholars and activists from all over the world to discuss the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action. Following the forum, a small group of women leaders gathered for an in-depth discussion about the cultural and historical roles of women in Muslim majority societies. Mahnaz Afkhami leads the discussion.
[0:04:00] Prose: Azar Nafisi discusses the subversive role of literature as a social force for change, as well as the subversive potential of women as the bearers of culture.
[0:10:00] Politics: Boutheina Cheriet, Azar Nafisi, and Munira Fakhro discuss the increasing level of consciousness and activism among women and the simultaneous resurgence of conservatism and fundamentalism in Algeria, Iran, and Bahrain as an outcome of a general social mobilization toward speaking out for political goals. Despite very different contexts, women in Muslim societies share similar struggles against the rise in fundamentalist interpretations of family laws and personal status code based on Sharia.
[0:29:23] Power: The group discusses the variability norms for women and gender relations within Muslim societies due to class or environmental factors. Cheriet addresses the issues of women joining Islamist movement in order to gain some agency. The group then discusses changes to improve the status of women in these situations: greater democracy in political participation, increased public dialogue and debate, policies to alleviate poverty, and increasing consciousness and cooperation among women."