Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Sisterhood Is Global Institute Presents Human Rights Manual at MEI

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Sisterhood Is Global Institute Presents Human Rights Manual at MEI

Article excerpt

Sisterhood is Global Institute Presents Human Rights Manual at MEI

The Middle East Institute hosted Mahnaz Afkhami, executive director of the Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI), and Haleh Vaziri, currently a post -- doctoral fellow at Harvard University's Center for Middle East Studies, co-authors of Claiming Our Rights: A Women's Human Rights Education Manual, for a July 14 discussion of the SIGI publication. To date, the manual has been field-tested in five countries -- Bangladesh, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia and Uzbekistan -- and the results of that research will be incorporated into a new edition.

Afkhami began by noting that there are 500,000,000 women in the Muslim world and that their situations, like their societies, are very diverse. There are, however, very few traditional societies left in the word, let alone in the Middle East, Afkhami observed, and as a result, "women today live in modem society." In Muslim countries, moreover, there are now substantial groups of educated women who "no longer want to be reactive" in addressing issues that affect their lives. Nor do they want to choose between their religion and egalitarianism. "The spirit of Islam is egalitarian," Afkhami maintained, characterized by "adjustment to the times, and to the will of the community." SIGI's research and work have led her to conclude that "rights per se are something which are sought by everyone" Differences reflect the different priorities and approaches unique to each society. …

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