PRAGNA PATEL

SECULARISM: A FEMINIST ISSUE
FUNDAMENTAL(IST) ADVANCES

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.

About Pragna: Pragna Is Founder and Director of the Southall Black Sisters. SBS is, a multi-award-winning women’s organisation founded in 1979 to address the needs of black and minority women experiencing gender violence. It successfully campaigned for the release of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, a landmark case in which an Asian woman was convicted of the murder of her violent husband. The case reformed homicide law, creating greater awareness within and outside minority communities. Pragna is also a co-founder of Women Against Fundamentalism. She has also written extensively on race, gender and religion, including "Citizenship: Whose Rights?", "Faith in the State? Asian Women’s Struggles for Human Rights in the UK", and "Shrinking Secular Spaces: Asian Women at the Intersect of Race, Religion and Gender". She was listed in The Guardian’s Top 100 women: activists and campaigners.

Find out more:
Twitter: @SBSisters
Website: https://www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/

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