CAMPAIGNS & PROGRAMMES

Home / CAMPAIGNS & PROGRAMMES

 

CURRENT CAMPAIGNS & PROGRAMMES

Body, Mind, and Sexual Autonomy

The Bodily Autonomy, Integrity, and Sexual Rights Programme was launched as a means of widening the debate about women’s bodily autonomy and sexuality, a major area of the WLUML concerns from its inception. WLUML’s research and documentations have made it amply clear that a woman’s body is the site of many social, cultural, religious, legal, and political struggles. In the name of religion – be it Islam, Christianity or other religious beliefs – or in the name of cultural purity and tradition, women have been subjected to discriminatory practices, codes of conduct and laws with the ultimate goal of controlling their sexuality and excluding them from public life. These practices and laws constitute and reinforce insidious forms of violence against women. The goal of this programme has been to develop new tools of analysis by exploring and mapping new avenues, and sharing strategies initiated in different communities by women activists to claim their rights and exercise control over their bodies as well as their minds. It examines the various means by which women resist and subvert their marginalisation from public life and public spaces.

 

RELATED PROJECTS

Love as Politics Project – Occasional Paper: Love & Politics 

Chic Resistance – Women, Fashion and Politics in Iran

Sexuality in Muslim Contexts: Restriction and Resistance

Dossier 32-33: Sexuality, Culture and Society in Muslim Contexts

Dress Codes & Mores Exhibit

 

Constitutionalising Women’s Equality

Given that many countries in the region are currently going through political upheaval, civil war, and transition this project  intends to understand and assess what the best practices are for embedding human rights and equal citizenship generally and more specifically,  women’s status, rights and gender equality and generally, as  substantive matters. The programme  examines how constitutions shape and are re-shaped by women’s rights advocates. Taking a comparative constitutional approach, we will explore the promise and pitfalls of constitutional norms and strategies for promoting gender equality, with a focus on the constitutional contexts of Afghanistan, India, Iran, Sudan and Egypt and others countries facing political upheaval and transition. The aim is to provide a framework for analysing the debates that shape constitutional norms and women’s rights. We will focus on  constitutional rights in the areas of social diversity, gender and religion, equality rights, women’s rights within the family, international human rights and participatory constitution-making. The purpose is to uncover how women’s inequality and subordination are constructed and framed in law; to reveal the ideological presuppositions of that inequality while understanding how differently situated women may be by virtue of other important aspects of their identity; and to develop understandings of justice that will improve the lived lives of women and move them further towards equality. (Adapted from the programme concept note 2020 by Vrinda Narain, WLUML Board member).

 

RELATED PROJECTS

Conference Series: Ensuring Women’s Rights in Post-Crisis Efforts and Constitutions: Strategies from the Local to the Transnational

Conference Series: History of Women’s Constitutional Rights in the Muslim World

Women’s Charters and Declarations: Building Another World 

Reading the Constitution: In Search of Rights

Demanding Justice, Freedom And Participation For The Women Of Afghanistan

In 2020, when there was still hope for a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, WLUML in consultation with its Afghan networkers launched a campaign in support of women’s demands and their participation in the peace talks. However, with the Taliban takeover and the implementation of their misogynist policies, WLUML is revising its campaign and its objectives. 

See our No Peace Without Women’s Rights in Afghanistan campaign.

 

RELATED PROJECTS

No Peace Without Women’s Rights Webinar Series: Women’s Engagement in Sustainable Peace Building in Afghanistan

No Peace Without Women’s Rights Webinar Series: No Peace Without Women’s Rights

No Peace Without Women’s Rights Webinar Series: Afghan Women Human Rights Defenders – Demand Justice & Accountability

No Peace Without Women’s Rights Webinar Series: Breathing Life into the Constitution of Afghanistan – The Role of Judges

No Peace Without Women’s Rights Webinar Series: Centering Women: Negotiating Peace in Afghanistan

No Peace Without Women’s Rights Webinar Series: Women’s Rights in Afghanistan

No Peace Without Women’s Rights Webinar Series: Evolution and Potential of Jihad – From Violence to Peace Building

No Peace Without Women’s Rights Webinar Series: Entrenching Women’s Rights: The Promise and Potential of the Constitution

No Peace Without Women’s Rights Webinar Series: Taliban Return: Implications for Women’s Rights and Global Security

Toronto Conference & support for the coalition Action for Afghanistan

Feminism & Art in Muslim Contexts

In the struggle to gain recognition and a place in society, women use different strategies and different tools. Art is one of these tools. As in most fields, art is male dominated and women are overlooked, their existence in these spaces in question. With the emergence of the feminist art movement in the late 1960s, female voices have become louder and louder, challenging male domination in the art industry. Today, many female artists reflect their struggles into their works, use art as an activist tool, and oppose roles of ‘womanhood’ assigned to them by society through their art.

After years of talk, and reminding each other of the importance of art forms like cinema, painting, and literature in the feminist struggle, WLUML introduced this programme to our activities. ‘Feminism and Art in Muslim Contexts’ takes a closer look at the works of female artists in diverse Muslim communities and countries. A complex image emerges when attempting to combine consideration of artforms, such as music, painting, and cinema, under the same headings as ‘Islam’, and ‘women’. But, this in itself is a clear indication that the subject deserves greater attention. This programme was developed to discuss how female artists, whose acts are not receiving the attention that they deserve, use art as a powerful tool within the framework of Muslim contexts. The programme will focus on how these artists increase the visibility of women in the field of art, how they transform art, and how they transform with art. They rebel against discriminatory systems trying to control female existence, exclude them from public life, or label them as poor, passive possessions by putting forward arguments under religion, tradition, or morality. This programme aims to inspire new discussions and activist-works through publications on many different artists and their works in different fields of art.

 

RELATED PROJECTS

Rebel with Rhythm Shatter with Words: Female rappers smashing the prescribed image of the ‘Muslim woman’

WLUML Recommends (Instagram)

Our Podcast

Interviews with female artists for 16 Days of Activism 2021

Human Rights and Women-Centred Islamic Perspectives

In January and February 2020 WLUML carried out a series of consultations with Afghan women leaders, many of whom have remained connected to our network since the 1990s. They anticipated that the US-Taliban negotiations, and subsequent agreement, would lead to the reversal of their rights and the hard-won gains for gender justice within Afghanistan. They requested that WLUML use its experience and expertise to generate women-centred interpretations of Quranic verses and Islamic texts, producing arguments for women’s rights from an Islamic lens. Their key demands were for knowledge production and international solidarity-building, to be targeted at various levels. From scholarly community and advocates, to an interested general public, as well as directed towards policy makers, and official decision-makers. Following the recent fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, 15 August 2021, WLUML again consulted Afghanistan’s women leaders. They suggested that we adapt this to support Afghan women who will continue to argue for women’s rights within Afghanistan against the Taliban’s extreme ideology. WLUML will use its extensive network and expertise to generate arguments in support of women’s rights from an Islamic lens. We will develop accessible educational materials, workshops, and training pedagogy modules improving understanding of women’s rights and constitution-making. These are designed to support education on women’s rights and women’s involvement in constitution-building. And, to support typically secular arguments for women’s rights using Islamic discourses, bridging the gap between secular and religious debates.

 

RELATED PROJECTS

Women’s Machineries Webinar 

Quranic Kit

Transformative Feminist Leadership Institute

WLUML’s Transformative Feminist Leadership Institute (TFLI) is an educative programme for young women leaders from Muslim contexts who are interested in gender equality, women’s human rights, and feminism. The Institute has been a fundamental pillar of WLUML’s activities since 1998. The TFLI’s goals are to enhance the effectiveness of the participants’ advocacy for gender justice and equality, to capacity-build through the sharing of knowledge and experiences, and to encourage and enable a new generation of active networkers. The institute is also part of WLUML’s wider aim to challenge the rhetoric that feminism is a western invention and to emphasise feminism’s rich history within Muslim contexts.

‘Transformative’ – The institute is ‘transformative’ because it is designed to stimulate an internal change in perception, and in understanding of the sources of gender discrimination. Participants are encouraged to think critically and engage with the world using feminist prisms of understanding.

‘Leadership’ – The term ‘leadership’ is applied broadly. While a leader is usually considered a person who wields public influence, for the purposes of the TFLI, a leader can also be someone who applies their influence in the private sphere through everyday acts.

 RELATED PROJECTS

Feminism in the Muslim World Leadership Institutes

Women & Politics

Most states across the globe, including in the Muslim world, recognize women’s legal right to participate in politics, or to elect and be elected to political office and other representative bodies. Despite this recognition however, to date women continue to be underrepresented in most political institutions nearly everywhere. Today, women compose only 24% of the world’s parliamentarians for instance, although they constitute at least half of the world’s population. Glass ceilings remain firmly in place for all other political decision-making positions, ranging from ministerial positions, to governors, to heads of states. Such marginalisation of women is systemic and often built into political structures that discriminate based on various identity markers, among them, gender, race, ethnicity, class, or property ownership. It is only as a result of great struggles by diverse groups and constituencies that democracy in practice has expanded to include the demands and rights of marginalised groups. 

Centring women’s political contributions both prior to being recognized as formal political actors and since receiving the right to elect and be elected to political decision-making in its analysis, this project will contribute to WLUML’s comparative study of women’s political roles and rights in their respective Muslim country, and how they compare to other countries within the region. This programme aims to highlight the ways in which women in diverse political, cultural, and religious contexts across the Muslim world have worked from within institutional and social realities of their contexts to impact politics and policies of their respective communities and nations.

 

RELATED PROJECTS

Conference: Women, Religion, and Politics in the Middle East: Negotiating Marginalisation and Representation

Electoral Politics: Making Quotas Work for Women

Dossier 29: Mechanisms and Structures to Promote and Protect Women’s Human Rights and Gender Equality 

Women Reclaiming Public Spaces

Access to public spaces as a matter of course for women and men is a significant reflection of gender practices and  the degree of gender equality in a given society. Since the presence of women in public spaces is to varying degrees limited in most societies, women’s public presence has both symbolic and actual value, indicating flexibility, openness, ‘tolerance’ and democratization, particularly in many Muslim contexts, where public spaces have been assumed to be primarily male spaces. Women have learned through centuries of struggle that public visibility is the first step in establishing their rights as citizens.  Thus since the early twentieth century women have been contesting their limited access to public spaces and taking steps to claim their rightful place in public arenas. 

In many post-colonial Muslim and non-Muslim contexts constituencies of women politicized in the course of anti-colonial movements demanded access to public space, pushed for refashioning women’s roles and for their incorporation  in public life. To varying degrees the newly established states supported these demands on the assumption that modernity required women’s presence in public life. However since the end of 1970s with the ascendance of  political Islamist to state power, sexual politics has emerged more pronouncedly at the centre of debate on women’s rights in everyday matters. From Algeria to Egypt, Nigeria, Iran, and even Indonesia and Malaysia where historically women enjoyed significant freedom of movement and access to the public sphere, conservatives and political Islamists claim religious dictates require the exclusion of women from public space and the imposition of restrictive dress codes and gender roles. 

It is in this context that WLUML, at the behest of its networkers, launched this collective research on various forms violence and harassment of women in public spaces.

 

RELATED PROJECTS

Conference: Women, Religion, and Politics in the Middle East: Negotiating Marginalisation and Representation

Film: Our Space, Girls of Dhabas 

Women’s Sport as Politics in Muslim Contexts 

16 Days of Activism

Since it was first launched in 1991, the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence international campaign has mobilized more than 4,100 organizations in 172 countries, raising awareness and educating the public worldwide about the pervasiveness of gender-based violence.  it has intended to a) raise awareness about gender-based violence against women as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels. b)  Strengthen local work around gender-based violence against women by sharing their stories and their strategies. c)  Establish links between local and international advocacy to end gender-based violence against women. d) Provide a forum in which organizers can develop and share new and effective strategies. e)  Demonstrate the solidarity of women around the world working against gender-based violence against women. F) Create tools and information to allow governments to implement commitments to eliminate gender-based violence against women. 

WLUML had participated in 16 days of activism from the year it was launched and has hosted a number of transnational actions in connection with the annual 16 Days Campaign against Gender-Based Violence. Indeed a search on its publication indicates the varieties of issues that it had tackled over the years during its 16 Days of Activism. Over the years exposing the ration between militarism and violence against women has been WLUML focus, each year has taken a different approach to its 16 days of activism.

 

RELATED PROJECTS

Some of the WLUML network’s 16 Days initiatives include: 

In 2010, national partners of the VNC campaign in Indonesia, Pakistan, Sudan and Senegal carried out a series of actions to highlight feminist resistance against CVAW; 

In 2012, the network highlighted 16 blogs and op-eds by and about members who have engaged in urgent activism, including Sudan, Iran, Mali, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt; 

In 2014, WLUML coordinated a blogging series by young women activists in the WELDD ‘Public Square’ platform – writing on the theme, ‘From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Gender-Based Violence,’ bloggers came from the Philippines, Somalia, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sudan, and Tunisia. WLUML also finished this year’s campaign with a Twitter teach-in on culturally-justified violence against women. 

In 2022, WLUML’s #activismthroughmusic campaign shared the work of inspiring women musicians and rappers using music as an activism tool in Muslim contexts. See interviews with musicians here.

PAST CAMPAIGNS & PROGRAMMES

  • Stop Violence Against Women (1984-1993)
  • Exchange programme (1988)
  • Women’s Rights Are Human Rights (1988-1993)
  • Mothers of Algiers (1987-1993)
  • Qur’anic interpretations meetings (1990-2004)
  • Rape as a Weapon of War (1990-2008)
  • Women and Law in the Muslim World (1991-2001)
  • Women and Family Law Project (1991-2005)
  • Vienna Tribunal Campaign (Women’s Rights are Human Rights) (1991-1995)
  • Women’s Reproductive Rights (1993-1998)
  • Women’s Role in Peacebuilding (1995-2000)
  • Gender and Displacement in Muslim Contexts, Afghanistan & Sri Lanka (1995-2005)
  • Feminism in the Muslim World Leadership Institutes (1998, 1999, 2007, 2009, 2013, 2015)
  • Gender, Militarization and displacement in Muslim contexts (1999-2002)
  • Initiative for Democratizing Afghan Family Laws – INSAF (2002-2007)
  • Dress Codes and Modes: Politics of Women’s Clothing in Muslim Contexts (2003-Present)
  • The International Coalition on Women Human Rights Defenders (2005-2021)
  • The Feminist Dialogue (2006-2010)
  • The Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women! (2007-2013)
  • Afghan Law Project (2007)
  • Women Reclaiming and Re-defining Cultures: Asserting rights over body, self, and public spaces (2008-2012)
  • Gender Equality Program (2008-present).
  • Violence is Not Our Culture (2009-2012)
  • Women’s Empowerment and Leadership Development for Democratisation (WELDD)
    (2012 – 2016)
  • No Peace Without Women’s Rights in Afghanistan (2020-2021)
  • Women’s Movement (ongoing)
  • Women, Law & Politics (ongoing)