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Fundamentalisms and Women's Rights

Fundamentalisms are on the rise around the world with negative consequences for women’s rights. In a broad sense fundamentalism can be understood as a selective and rigid interpretation, and imposition, of religious laws and sacred texts as a basis for ordering a society and political control. However religious fundamentalism is not a monolithic entity – there are a wide range of fundamentalisms around the world, covering different religions, each drawing on specific ‘traditional’ cultural ideologies and practices in order to uphold a moral or political agenda.

There have recently been a number of shocking attacks on women given high profile in the international news – including the abduction of nearly 300 girls in Nigeria by Boko Haram, a Sudanese woman given the death sentence for refusing to renounce Christianity and a very visible ‘honour killing’ of a woman on the steps of the Lahore High Court. Violence Against Women, and a general lack of respect for the principles of human rights, is a common feature of fundamentalisms. The issue of women – especially imposing control around their roles, movements and bodies – is one of the central focuses of all fundamentalist discourses.

This guide features a handful of excellent resources on this difficult and broad issue including: practical guidance on fundamentalisms for human rights activists; regional studies into Christian and Islamic fundamentalist discourses around sexual and reproductive health and rights; recommendations on broadening understanding and developing more nuanced approaches to tackling fundamentalisms; an overview of women’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa region.