Ashraf Zahedi: The Role of Religion in Afghan Women’s Organizations

Ashraf Zahedi: The Role of Religion in Afghan Women’s Organizations

Dr. Ashraf Zahedi (Visiting Scholar, Center for Middle East Studies, UCSB)

The Role of Religion in Afghan Women’s Organizations

Wednesday, February 20 / 3pm

HSSB 3041

ZahediThe overthrow of the Taliban regime in 2001 heralded a new beginning for Afghan women. Encouraged by the ideal of gender equality and financed by international donors, women’s organizations were formed throughout Afghanistan. These organizations draw on Islam as a strategy for mobilization of Afghan women and for legal and cultural protection of their activities. Afghan women’s organizations, however, are not homogenous in their ideology and degree of religiosity; they range from Islamists to secular feminists. These organizations have been facing a balancing act of reconciling gendered Afghan laws with gender-balanced international laws. The departure of the US led international forces from Afghanistan in 2014 and the prospect of losing their sources of funding pose a serious challenge to them. What will happen to these organizations in post 2014 remains to be seen. It depends on a number of socio-political factors as well as the dynamics of action and reaction between Afghan political leaders and traditional forces.

Sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies