Conference: Feminism and Islamic Perspectives: New Horizons of Knowledge and Reform

The Women and Memory Forum, in collaboration with the Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute (DEDI), and The Danish Center for Information on Gender, Equality and Ethnicity KVINFO is organizing a conference on “Feminism and Islamic Perspectives: New Horizons of Knowledge and Reform,” with participants from Egypt, the Arab world, and Europe. The conference will take place in Cairo, 17th-18th March, 2012 at the Supreme Council for Culture, Cairo Opera House.

WMF intends to publish the presented papers in two books, in Arabic and English.

For more information about the conference, registration and the program please visit the conference online platform http://fipcairo.wordpress.com/

About the Conference: The notion of bringing together women’s demands and the Islamic perspective has engaged a number of pioneering women activists and writers in the Arab region since the end of the 19th century, with the call for rights and empowerment taking Islamic principles and culture as a general frame of reference. Nevertheless, their early output may have lacked direct theorizing, specific analytical methodologies, and naming or designated terminology. In the last twenty years, the concept has developed to the application of feminist consciousness in order to understand the gap between the original message of Islam and the translation of its values into equal opportunities and partnership on the ground, as well as to take into consideration equal human dignity for both Muslim women and men. More specifically, the idea of an “indigenous” or “organic” form of feminism has meant using feminist tools of analysis to sift through the Islamic sciences—from the perspective of practicing Muslim women. Doors of ijtihad need to be opened in order to facilitate producing an Islamic knowledge that revives and emphasizes gender justice, equality, and partnership—a knowledge alternative to the processes of exclusion and the sense of superiority we find in some discourses of the ‘ulama and their manner of deduction. Despite the scholarly efficiency of these classical ‘ulama and their efforts in adhering to the shari’ah, they were products of their eras and cultures, naturally not interested in establishing equal status for men and women. It is time for the Islamic body of knowledge to conceptualize and express this justice and equality in status, capabilities, and opportunities.

Conference Goals: The main incentive behind Islamic feminist research is the activation of Islam’s “just” and “fair” principles for the production of gender-sensitive knowledge within an Islamic frame of reference. Beside critiquing authoritarian patriarchal discrimination in religious discourses, the ultimate aim is to reform and reconstruct a vision that meets the needs of women in Muslim societies. This conference also raises the issues of interaction and cooperation with feminist trends in other religions and with the general feminist movement in Arab societies, as well as through outreach and dialogue with Muslim feminists and communities in Europe.

Advisory Committee:  Omaima AbouBakr (Conference Coordinator, WMF and Cairo University)

Hosn Aboud  (Bahithat- Lebanese Association of Women Researchers)

Hoda El Saadi (WMF and American University in Cairo)

Mervat Hatem (WMF and Howard University)

Julie Pruzan-Jørgensen (Danish Institute for International Studies)

Hanne Petersen ( University of Copenhagen)

Liv Tonnessen (Chr. Michelsen Institute, Norway)

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