Whose Gender Equality? On the Boundaries of Islam and Feminism in the MENA Region

  • Ilyass Bouzghaia
Part of the Gender and Politics book series (GAP)


In contemporary Muslim postcolonial countries, the term gender equality resonates as an appealing international principle for many politicians. However, for many Islamist and conservative forces, the term triggers suspicion and hostility on the ground that it serves as a western product that infringes cultural specificities and threatens the gendered parameters of the Muslim family. This chapter seeks to examine the different ways gender equality is perceived in CEDAW and in the Islamic Sharia as two distinct paradigms that inform feminist activism in the MENA region, and how they shape trajectories of women’s empowerment and/or marginalization. The chapter argues that while many ideo-political, developmental and legislatives situations in the region overlap to constitute ambivalent states for women’s rights, authors and theologians have managed to push the boundaries of Islam and feminism towards possibilities of Islamizing feminism and feminizing Islam. Given the assorted experiences of MENA region countries, this chapter draws on a number of attitudes expressed by feminist activists who manifest the philosophical, political and ideological grounds that underpin the meaning of equality in their contexts.


Gender equality Islam Feminism CEDAW Sharia Islamic feminism 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ilyass Bouzghaia
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Women’s Studies in IslamRabita Mohammadia of UlemaRabatMorocco
  2. 2.Sidi Mohamed ben Abdellah UniversityFesMorocco

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