There are these opportunities for a partnership in ways in which there is complimentarity between religious and secular frameworks or approaches to women’s rights. And there’s a potential for it to be a two way street
of knowledge and information sharing and support for each other. Definitely, some of the women that I spoke to talked about this continuing fetishizing of the Muslim woman, the poor Muslim woman, by Western actors who are interested in partnering with Muslim women’s rights groups. Whereas other Muslim women’s rights activists I spoke with said that they receive a lot more support and understanding of their work by Western secular partners support that they don’t get locally. The religious-secular dynamics at a local level can sometimes feel a lot more charged than at a transnational level. And so, for some of these organizations, especially when it comes to their advocacy work, they get really important support both financial, but
also resources and other types of support they can get that transnationally or from Western-based organizations – they’re unable to get that locally. Often times we focus on the support that the
global North can give the global South in terms of finances and resources. But, organizations like Sisters in Islam have a certain expertise that they can offer the other partners, other countries in other parts of the world. So, Sisters in Islam more recently has been asked to do trainings, has been asked by Western governments and Western organizations to do trainings on how to approach women’s rights within different religious communities within the West, as one example. They’ve also done trainings with the CEDAW committee, for instance, Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. On how do you handle when countries put forward the religion flag in putting forward these reservations against human rights treaties. And, so, an organization like Sisters in Islam says that The government doesn’t speak for us. Even the major or traditional conservative religious institutions
don’t necessarily speak for the entire population. And women’s religious voices are just as important and we have to make sure they’re not silenced in this process.