© 1999

Religious Fundamentalisms and the Human Rights of Women

  • Editors
  • Courtney W. Howland

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxv
  2. Social and Political Sciences Perspectives on the Impact of Religious Fundamentalism on Women

  3. Responses to Religious Fundamentalist Assertions of Cultural Relativism

  4. The Conflict between the Human Rights of Women and the Religious Freedom of Fundamentalists: The International Legal Framework

  5. Religious Fundamentalism and National Laws

About this book


Dialogue on the conflict between religious fundamentalism and women's rights is often stymied by an 'all or nothing' approach: fundamentalists claim of absolute religious freedom, while some feminists dismiss religion entirely as being so imbued with patriarchy as to be eternally opposed to women's rights. This ignores, though, the experiences of religious women who suffer under fundamentalism and fight to resist it, perceiving themselves to be at once religious and feminist. In Religious Fundamentalisms and the Human Rights of Women , Howland provides a forum for these different scholars, both religious and nonreligious, to meet and seek common ground in their fight against fundamentalism. Through an examination of international human rights, national law, grass roots activism, and theology, this volume explores the acute problems that contemporary fundamentalist movements pose for women's equality and liberty rights.


conflict feminism freedom of religion fundamentalism gender human rights liberty political science women

About the authors

COURTNEY W. HOWLAND is Visiting Scholar in Residence at the International Women's Human Rights Center at Georgetown University Law Center.

Bibliographic information


'This is an informative and empowering book on the troubled relationship between religious fundamentalisms and women's rights. The book does not only offer analyses of this relationsip and the difficulities experienced by women from all religious traditions in the face of sexist fundamentalism, it also moves towards alternatives in this relationship...It is imperative for South African society to take not of this book, its analyses and proposals.' - Professor Christina Landman, RITR, University of South Africa, Pretoria

'Howland's book is valuable for the insights that its essays offer into the devices and arguments that extremists use in different religious settings (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism) to camouflage male dominance and package it as sacred, eternal and transcendent divine law. The book clarifies underlying similarities among the religions, while also noting some striking areas of divergence.' - Fatema Mernissi, Institute Universitaire De Recherche Scientifique, Université Mohamed V, Rabat, Morocco

'This book is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the significant dual role that religions play in both disempowering and empowering women in different societies.' - Rebecca J. Cook, University of Toronto

'This book is a fascinating collection of essays representing perspectives of anthropology, law, theology and philosophy. It is a must for anyone interested in feminist studies, cultural relativism or human rights. The diversity of approaches to a complex phenomenon is truly astounding.' - Christoph H. Schreuer, Johns Hopkins University