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Prose, Politics and Power: Conversations with Muslim Women Leaders

Sun, May 12, 1996

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Sisterhood Is Global Institute

Muslim women leaders discuss fiction in Muslim-majority societies as capable of creating a room for dialogue, for subversion and for empowerment. They reflect on the example of Scheherazade, and the richness and variety of the legacy in Islam.

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About Mahnaz Afkhami

A lifetime advocate for the rights of women, Mahnaz Afkhami works with activists across the world, especially in Muslim majority societies, to help women become leaders. She is Founder and President of Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace (WLP), Executive Director of Foundation for Iranian Studies...more

Quotables – Muslim Women

"The most taxing contradiction [Muslim women] face casts the demands of living in the contemporary world against the requirements of tradition as determined and advanced by the modern Islamist world view. At the center of this conflict is the dilemna of Muslim women’s human rights – whether Muslim women have rights because they are human beings, or whether they have rights because they are Muslim" - Faith and Freedom: Introduction

"To the extent that Islam, defined and interpreted by traditionalist "Muslim" men, is allowed to determine the context and contour of the debate on women's rights, women will be on the losing side of the debate because the conclusion is already contained in the premise and reflected in the process. This is the heart of the moral tragedy of Muslim societies in our time." - Gender Apartheid, Cultural Relativism, and Women's Human Rights

“Islam is not the problem. Rather it is the misuse of Islam by interpreting it to fit the needs of the partriarchal order - the powers that be - and the privileges that one gender has held over the other.” - How are women working to eliminate violence against women in Muslim-majority societies?

Quotables – Power

"We must subordinate power in all its manifestations to our shared humane values." - Architects for Peace

"The values we have developed as feminists cannot be achieved within a patriarchal setting—whether local, national, or global. On the other hand, to ignore the systemic forces that shape our interactive lives is to become Quixotic." - Rights of Passage

"If we define disagreements in terms of our fundamental values, then clearly we nourish the roots of extremism. We need to begin to encourage a culture of reason, practicality, and consensus." - Clash or Consensus

"Many women now realize that their problem is not simply how to contend with men, but also how to re-imagine and help reconstruct a social order that has entrapped both men and women." - Leading To Choices