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UNRISD Research Coordinator publishes article on the Open Democracy’s “50.50” website on “Religion, Gender and Politics”

15 Jun 2010



Shahra Razavi, UNRISD Research Coordinator, has recently published an article on the Open Democracy’s “50.50” website on “Religion, Gender and Politics”. The website, being funded by the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation and the Dutch “Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries” (HIVOS), is also supported by UNRISD and the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID).

Shahra’s article focuses on how religious actors, movements and idioms have gained renewed public and political visibility over the past three to four decades caused by a number of seemingly unrelated yet almost simultaneously unfolding developments, such as the 1979 revolution in Iran and the rise of Solidarnosc in Poland. She discusses how the narrative of declining faith and diminished public role for religion therefore seems to have had only a partial and localised significance, thereby questioning the grand predictions of sweeping secularization as the inevitable companion to modernization and development.

She asks where this leaves gender equality and whether the explosion of politicised religion made it harder for women to pursue equality with men. She outlines some of her work on the UNRISD project on Religion, Politics and Gender Equality. The project’s aim was to respond to this key question by exploring how religion and politics have interfaced in different national settings, and also how women - both individually and collectively - have contested or reinforced generalisations regarding gender bias in leadership.

Shahra discusses how the relationship between religion and gender is highly controversial, among both scholars and public actors, and how the divisions among scholars are profound and often revolve around the question of whether religion is “good” or “bad” for the status of women in society, with often opposing arguments.

Click here to visit UNRISD's page on the Open Democracy’s “Religion, Gender and Politics” website.