© 2016

Religion, Gender and Citizenship

Women of Faith, Gender Equality and Feminism


Part of the Citizenship, Gender and Diversity book series (FEMCIT)

Table of contents

About this book


Through interviews with Christian and Muslim women in Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom, this book explores intersections between religion, citizenship, gender and feminism. How do religious women think about citizenship, and how do they practice citizenship in everyday life? How important is faith in their lives, and how is religion bound up with other identities such as gender and nationality? What are their views on 'gender equality', women's movements and feminism? The answers offered by this book are complex. Religion can be viewed as both a resource and a barrier to women's participation. The interviewed women talk about citizenship in terms of participation, belonging, love, care, tolerance and respect. Some seek gender equality within their religious communities, while others accept different roles and spaces for women. 'Natural' differences between women and men and their equal value are emphasized more than equal rights. Women's movements are viewed as having made positive contributions to women's status, but interviewees are also critical of claims related to abortion and divorce, and of feminism's allegedly selfish, unwomanly, anti-men and power-seeking stance. In the interviews, Christian privilege is largely invisible and silenced, while Muslim disadvantage is both visible and articulated. Line Nyhagen and Beatrice Halsaa unpack and make sense of these findings, discussing potential implications for the relationship between religion, gender and feminism.


Religion women citizenship gender equality feminism women's movements Christianity/Christian Islam/Muslim religious minorities ethnic minorities majority-minority relations Norway Spain United Kingdom Christianity gender Nation nationality participation religion

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Loughborough UniversityUK
  2. 2.University of OsloNorway

About the authors

Line Nyhagen is Reader in Sociology at Loughborough University, UK. A sociologist and political scientist, she researches gender within historical and contemporary religious contexts focusing on Christianity and Islam, as well as feminism and ethnic relations within the contexts of social movements and public policy.

Beatrice Halsaa is Professor in Gender Studies at the Centre for Gender Research at the University of Oslo, Norway. A political scientist, she researches the institutionalization of gender equality politics in Norway, the history of women's and gender research, feminist utopias, as well as feminism and ethnic relations within the contexts of social movements and public policy.

Bibliographic information


“Religion, Gender and Citizenship is an important intervention in the topic of religious women and their everyday lives. It does not rely on religious texts or rituals to reach conclusions, but rather takes an honest look at religious woman from three European countries … . The book does an excellent job of demonstrating how women negotiate citizenship, belonging, faith and the issue of how to relate to both women of different faiths and secular women.” (Haje Keli, LSE Review of Books,, April, 2018)

“This book is based on a comparative study of Christian and Muslim women in Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom. It is a result of research conducted within the research project ‘FEMCIT: Gendered Citizenship in Multicultural Europe: The Impact of Women’s Movements’. …Nyhagen and Halsaa have provided a fascinating and thorough analysis of how Muslim and Christian women in three European countries view citizenship, religion, and gender. …For anyone interested in these issues, this book is a must-read.” (Inger Furseth, NORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, Vol. 25 (3), October, 2017)

“The authors adopt a kind of sociological detachment from the views of their participants, showing the variety and complexity of their views … . In conclusion, I can thoroughly recommend this absorbing book. It employs a wealth of subtly analysed empirical material to address a topic that has long been uncomfortable for feminists, and yet one which demands our attention in an age when religion is increasing rather than declining in political significance.” (Dave Elder-Vass, The Sociological Review, Vol. 65 (2), May, 2017)

“Religion, Gender and Citizenship investigates how in Norway, the United Kingdom and Spain, Christian and Muslim women live religion in their everyday lives and conceptualize citizenship, gender equality, women’s movements and feminism. … Several strengths characterize the rich, well-written and nuanced monograph under review. … this book by Nyhagen and Halsaa is a necessary and welcome piece of research on the relevant role religion plays in our gendered western societies and polities.” (Celia Valiente, International Feminist Journal of Politics, Vol. 19 (2), May, 2017)​

“Because of growing religious diversity in many countries in the world, religion has gained much attention in the research of various disciplines. … Their analysis contributes to a more nuanced understanding of women and religion in Europe. … political scientists, gender researchers, and sociologists, but also readers mainly interested in theology, religious studies, or diaconal studies can learn a lot by reading this book.” (Annette Leis-Peters, Diaconia, Vol. 8, 2017)

“The volume Religion, Gender and Citizenship by Line Nyhagen and Beatrice Halsaa is an inspiring illustration of cross-national and comparative research on religion and gender. … Applying an intersectional awareness, the authors demonstrate that not only religion and gender but also race/ethnicity are important aspects of the identities and experiences of religious women. … Religion, Gender and Citizenship is therefore crucial literature for scholars engaged in the sociological and anthropological study of religion and gender.” (Nella van den Brandt, Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies, Vol. 20 (4), 2017)