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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.

Understanding Religious Fundamentalisms for Activists
Association for Women's Rights in Development, 2014
This user-friendly resource manual was created for rights activists facing religious fundamentalist opposition to their work. It brings together the innovative research and analysis produced by the Association for Women In Development...
Reclaiming and Redefining Rights: ICPD+20: Status of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Middle East and North Africa
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, 2013
The year 2014 was meant to be the year that ended the Program of Action adopted by the Cairo Conference for Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994. The document was a paradigm shift in understanding and framing reproductive health ...
More Under the Veil: Women and Muslim Fundamentalism in MENA
S. Greiff 2014
This short document provides a general picture of the situation of Muslim fundamentalisms and women in the Middle East and North Africa. Even though similarities can be drawn between different movements all over the region, in truth, ...
Not As Simple As ABC: Christian Fundamentalisms and HIV and AIDS Responses in Africa
J. Horn / Association for Women's Rights in Development, 2012
HIV and AIDS remains a starkly gendered epidemic in the African region. Sub-Saharan Africans represent 68 percent of HIV+ people globally, with an average of 13 women infected for every 10 men. While men as a group have lower prevalen...
Extremism As Mainstream: Implications For Women, Development & Security In The MENA / Asia Region
Association for Women's Rights in Development, 2014
Religious extremism is spreading throughout the Middle East and Muslim majority contexts, with profound consequences for social, regional and global security. The response by many countries has been primarily militarised. There has be...
The Holy See at the United Nations: Church or State?
Catholics for Choice, 2013
This three-minute video explains what the Holy See—the government of the Catholic church and the representative of a mere 600 Vatican residents—does with its position as the only religion with the privileges of a state at th...