Countering the Backlash: Advancing Gender Equality through Faith Values: Reflections from a practitioner’s front

Sandra Iman Pertek is an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow and gender and social development specialist with over a decade’s experience in humanitarian, development, and migration settings. Her research integrates intersectional and ecological approaches for developing religious engagement with the continuum of violence in forced migration.

She is a mixed-methods researcher and an active contributor to networks dedicated to gender, religion, and forced migration. She has led several studies across the Middle East, Africa, and Europe; most recently the Ukrainian refugees at risk project in Poland and Ukraine. She currently leads Protecting forcibly displaced women and girls in the Muslim world.

As a SEREDA Research Fellow (Impact and Policy lead), she has coordinated multi-stakeholder initiatives to strengthen protection in forced displacement. She has consulted on behalf of governmental, inter-governmental, and non-governmental organizations, and she previously served in a leading humanitarian organization as Senior Policy Adviser on Gender.

This paper discusses promoting gender equality in Muslim communities through Islamic teachings. The author, a gender specialist working with Muslim organizations, highlights challenges like resistance to the term “feminism” and interpretations of Islam used to justify discrimination. However, the Quran itself emphasizes equality and justice for all. The author argues that Islamic values can be a force for gender equality. The paper suggests using Islamic scripture and historical figures to advocate for women’s rights. It emphasizes education and involving men in the conversation. Overall, the paper offers strategies to overcome resistance and use faith to achieve gender equality in Muslim communities.

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