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7 Gender Equality and Muslim Women: Negotiating Expanded Rights in Muslim Majority and Immigrant Contexts

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Chapter Summary

This chapter addresses contemporary debates about Muslim women's rights and equality through re-visiting a fundamental debate in Western feminism: the conundrum of equality versus difference. At the end of the twentieth century, Muslim women's inequality and lack of rights came to play an active role in the rhetoric and politics of the 'Clash of Civilizations'. In both Muslim majority and minority contexts, dominant public discourse increasingly posed gender equality and Muslim identity as mutually exclusive and conflicting choices for women and society at large. This problematic view reflects a politics of gender where Muslim women's rights have become a stand-in for various imperial, national and identitarian agendas. The chapter focuses on the different nature these debates take when they are re-positioned among the women concerned, that is, women in Muslim majority and minority contexts seeking a more just gender order within their societies and communities.

Keywords: gender equality; Muslim identity; Muslim women's rights; Western feminism



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