SECULARISM: A FEMINIST ISSUE (PT 1)

The panel will focus on the rise of religious fundamentalism(s) in Europe, Africa and Middle East, its relation with the concurrent rise of (neo)liberal ideologies and their combined impact on the rights of women & ethnic minorities. From the attack on women's sexual-reproductive autonomy and re-establishment of "traditional values" by the Catholic, Christian Orthodox and Islamic ideologues, to the appropriation of the feminist language & struggle, we will explore how the two seemingly mutually exclusive movements - one of "tradition" and the other of "modernity", in fact, work hand in hand, to roll back the universal rights, liberties of women and minority groups.

SPEAKERS: HOUZAN MAHMOUD / SODFA DAAJI / PRAGNA PATEL / ANNA ZOBNINA

“HOW YEARS OF MALE INTERPRETATION OF RELIGION IS AFFECTING THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS’
SOFA DAAJI

No matter which religion we take into consideration; the space for women is limited. What is even worst, is that during the years, men interpreted religions to put “women in their place”. Our freedoms, our bodies, our choices have to follow a strict line drawn by men to limit our lives as women. The aim is to understand how interpretation is limiting our fight to get our rights, and what should we do - together - to fight these interpretations that are affecting our sisters around the world, especially when religion is not separated from the State.

‘TRADITIONAL VALUES’ AND ‘GENDER IDEOLOGY’ AS TOOLS FOR DISMANTLING FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS OF WOMEN AND MIGRANTS IN EUROPE
ANNA ZOBNINA

My presentation will give an overview of different religious fundamentalist trends in Europe and the way they relate to racist and anti-migrant movements. In particular I will also focus on the rise of Catholic and Christian Orthodox driven ideologies, on the rise in Eastern-Central-Balkan Europe and Russia, their strategies of attacking women reproductive rights through the notions of “traditional values” and “gender ideology” and the importance of secular feminism in resisting it.



FUNDAMENTAL(IST) ADVANCES
PRAGNA PATEL

My presentation will focus on the impact of the rapid rise of religious fundamentalism, ultra-nationalism and fascism across Europe and the world that we are currently witnessing. These profoundly reactionary forces pose a serious threat to fundamental human rights and freedoms of not only women but also minorities and other marginalised groups. In the UK, years of struggles by black feminists against patriarchy, racism and aspects of multiculturalism finally began to yield positive changes. But recent developments in law and social policy such as the push towards the privatisation of justice and the promotion of a faith based approach to minorities (multi-faithism) have empowered fundamentalists of all religions to wield more and more power and control. They now threaten to undo the gains that women have made in challenging injustice and inequality. This is why the struggle for secularism is directly related to the struggle for women’s rights and for racial equality and democracy generally.

RESISTANCE AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM AND ALTERNATIVES
HOUZAN MAHMOUD

My talk will focus on the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and their destructive methods of genocide and sexual enslavement of women. The legacy of ISIS mentality in addition to existing social conservatism will be discussed as to how they leave a deadly impact on women, their bodies, rights and freedoms.

Finally, I will point out how women developed strategies of self-defence, armed struggle as well as planting gender equality in the heart of this struggle.

SECULARISM A FEMINIST ISSUE.jpg