Cyra Akila Choudhury, “Empowerment or Estrangement? Liberal Feminism’s Vision of the Progress of Muslim Women”

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Abstract:
This paper presents some thoughts on the progress of Muslim women towards gender justice. It argues that Liberal Legal feminism shares a common understanding of history and progress with those Liberal political theories that justified the British Empire. Because of this genealogy, Liberal feminism seeks to reform cultures and societies that do not comport with a particular Liberal teleology that forecloses the expression of alternative ideas of history, progress, and human flourishing. It further argues that Muslim women’s organizations that partner with Northern organizations sometimes seek to fulfill Liberal expectations of victimhood at the hands of their culture. The consequence is that they often reap estrangement rather than empowerment. Finally, the paper raises some concerns about the feminist engagement with the state and with the international as a way of promoting women’s progress.

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