14. September 2020

Event Report | Feminism(s) | Part I: Islamic Feminism

Event report

Feminism(s) | Part I: Islamic Feminism


September 9, 7-8 pm

A part of our team with speaker Dr. Lana Sirri

At our first event in the series Feminism(s) we focused on the origins, definition and different ideas of Islamic feminism. During the Arab Spring, Muslim women were active participants in the political and social movements and raised their voices for gender equality, women’s rights and political representation. Not only, but especially in secular and predominantly Christian countries, the following questions were raised: how do Islam and feminism intersect? What do Islamic feminisms look like? And how do secular and religious feminist movements interact or join forces in predominantly Musmlim countries? 

Together with Dr. Lana Sirri, a Palestinian activist and Assistant Professor on Gender and Religion at Maastricht University, we learnt more about the different forms of Islamic feminism and how these can be taken into account and integrated in Germany’s international engagement.

Right from the beginning, Lana Sirri made clear that there is no singular definition of Islamic feminism, but that all approaches bring the category of religion into feminist theory. As Lana noted, many scholars and activists that could be considered Islamic feminists would not necessarily call themselves feminists. Instead they would seek to distance themselves from mainstream feminism, as it tends to reject the idea that one can be religious and a feminist alike. Typically, secular Western feminists seek to dismantle the patriarchal system and consider religion as part of patriarchy. Lana also pointed out that Islamic feminism does not only intend to challenge patriarchal gender norms but also social constructs that are imposed on Islam as well as on Islamic feminisms. In this context, Islam, for example, is often only reduced to its gender relations and entrenched patriarchal structures.

Regarding Germany’s foreign policy engagement, Lana pointed out that Germany should focus on the political participation of marginalised communities. While supporting women’s movements, it is first and foremost necessary to listen to those women affected by a certain issue and understand the local context. According to Lana, a major problem of Western engagement is the widespread narrative of the liberation of Muslim women, which needs to be overcome.

For a deeper introduction into Islamic Feminism we recommend Lana’s book “Einführung in islamische Feminismen” (available in German). 

This event was organized by Polis180’s program Gender and International Politics. It is part of our event series Feminism(s) that takes a look at feminist movements, ideas and actors around the world. Please join us on October 5 for our next event on Feminism in China


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