Women’s rights in Pakistan: A study of religious and alternate discourses regarding women’s participation in politics
Keywords:rights of women, religious discourses, secular discourses, military regime, Islamization, Islamists, gender equality, equal rights, political participation
This study aims to evaluate the religious and the alternate discourses on women’s political rights in Pakistan; such debates were heightened and intensified as a result of General Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization vision and policies implemented between 1977 to 1988. Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization is argued to have polarized women’s participation in politics and challenged the standing of feminist groups, Islamic feminists, and secularists, which made Islam and women’s political participation the subject of debates that are still relevant in the case of Pakistan. The paper argues that Pakistani state’s Islamic disposition in general and Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization in particular provoked religious conservatism and promoted gender-based discrimination that deeply affected women’s political participation. This study seeks to reconcile the different perspectives of Islamic and secular feminism for realizing the goals of effective participation of women in politics. The paper uses a qualitative research method concentrating on thematic analysis, which employs for identifying and analyzing patterns or themes within qualitative data analysis approaches. The findings suggest that in the case of women rights, Islamic feminism and secular feminism are compatible and complementary, and a synthesis of both is imperative to realize the effective participation of women in politics.
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