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Women's rights in the muslim world: reform or reconstruction?
journal contributionposted on 2006-12-21, 00:00 authored by R Barlow, Shahram AkbarzadehShahram Akbarzadeh
The issue of gender inequality is an acute problem in countries where women's lives are governed by laws, and configured by customs and traditions, said to derive from Islam. In the second half of the 20th century, two Muslim feminist paradigms have emerged in response to this malaise. Islamic feminists aim to establish women's rights within the Islamic framework by re-interpreting Islam's holy sources. In contrast, secular feminists challenge the particularistic nature of the Islamic framework and advocate the application of a set of standard universal rights for Muslim and non-Muslim women. This article focuses on the writings of the Moroccan feminist Fatima Mernissi, tracing her evolution from advocating secular reconstruction of Muslim societies to a position that resembles Islamic reformism.