Academic journal article International Journal on Humanistic Ideology

Religion, Gender and Citizenship. Women of Faith, Gender Equality and Feminism

Academic journal article International Journal on Humanistic Ideology

Religion, Gender and Citizenship. Women of Faith, Gender Equality and Feminism

Article excerpt

Line Nyhagen and Beatrice Halsaa, Religion, Gender and Citizenship. Women of Faith, Gender Equality and Feminism, Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2016, 271 pp., ISBN: 978-1-137-40533-3.

The question of faith and citizenship has been polemic in nature; categorically in feminist scholarship. There are intellectual attempts to explore the nature of hesitation which wavers around overlapping boundaries of religion in secular societies. Philosophy of feminism maintains crucial concerns with the authority of religion and power of state. Women's suffrage movement has been central to the conception of organized feminist movement delineating a sense of political power and 'gendered account of citizenship'1 due to which 'process of greater female representation in state agencies gathered momentum'2 and became plausible. The ideology of feminism has arrived at more than one ways of practicing feminism; endorsing and serving the question of women critically under multiple philosophies like liberalism, socialism, standpoint theory, theology etc. With the turn of the century the process of discourse formation has evolved, so has the interventions and implications of the women's movement. Feminist endeavour in revisiting their struggle consequently has led to the redefinition of their relationship with conceptual framework of state and religion. Correspondingly, the attempt of Line Nyhagen and Beatrice Halsaa in their book Religion, gender and citizenship: Women of faith, gender equality and feminism is expository towards understanding of religion and gender in present challenging political milieu. This monograph has emanated from a research project conducted with 'FEMCIT: Gendered Citizenship in Multicultural Europe: The Impact of Women's Movements'.

This book is insightful in bringing out the ignorance of feminist women's movement which has remained concentrated with autonomy agency and empowerment in 1960's over religion as subject of study which has shifted its focus from its institutional character to as against issues like 'abortion, contraception, women's bodies and reproductive rights' (p. 31). The book is neatly divided into 7 chapters each of them highlighting the relationship of religious women to the concepts of religion, feminism and citizenship in a manner which observes and examines their lived realities and participation. The rationale of this study is clarified in the first chapter, while exploring notions of faith, citizenship, and gender of Christian and Muslim women in Norway, Spain and United Kingdom. Entire book appears as an attempt to intervene into questions raised about conceptualization of gender and equality and 'secular-religious binary' (p. 4). It investigates the manifestation of religion as 'a resource or a barrier to European women's citizenship' (p. 22) through in-depth qualitative interviews with 61 women identified through snowball method from Christian and Muslim faith. Second chapter intervenes more deeply into exploring the validity of religion in the modern society discussing indistinct line between religious values and non-religious values like modernization, humanism or secularization. Whereas third Chapter distinctly foregrounds the discursive nature of 'autobiographical construction of identities' which explores everyday experience of religion by women of faith intertwined with their social locations like migration, culture, occupation etc.

Chapter four is on lived practice of religion and citizenship which reflects at how the process of migration has resulted in escalation of 'non-Christian' (p. 117) religions in Europe making Islam largest minority religion. Negative effects of which are experienced through the othering and discrimination; not to mention Islamophobia. These effects were illustrated through challenges which Muslim women experience in their lived citizenships as against Christian women in media, public spaces, workplace, etc. …

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