The human right awareness in the world has taken a quite interesting shape in the attempt to achieve sisterhood and recognize women rights as human rights. This has been a subject of debate and extensive criticism as it is perceived as having potential to “homogenizing the issues that might be different to different women. There is also the risk of universalizing feminist ideas that are practiced in the western countries and use them to solve the problems facing all women around the globe.
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Societal development and political maturity of a society is currently appraised by the extent the women rights are being enforced. In my opinion, is support that women problems should not at all be homogenized or feminist ideas universalized because the problems of women are not similar around the world and different women take different course in addressing their problems.
The issue of women rights has brought about hot debates in the world especially regarding veil put by Muslim women and other issues like polygamy. As presented in this essay, the issue of veil which is a discursive issue in the world is discussed as described by Leila Ahmed.
Leila Ahmed tries to seek the discourse about women and gender in the Islamic has emerged and exploring what is the root cause of such debates in current worlds. She seeks from the debate whether the Islamic culture and societies are really oppressive to women. Te center of her concern was the discourse of veil where women in the Islamic societies were required to appear in veils and other clothing that are connected to the Islamic traditions.
The mail question that lingered in her mind is whether the issue of veil and the traditional clothing was meant to boost pure Islam favoring both sexes or otherwise. Ahmed first focuses on the gender pattern in the Middle East prior to the emergence of the Islam in order to gain ground to describe the Islamic doctrine on women that were practiced in the past. She describes how the Arab societies propagated the debates about women and gender within the Islamic societies that have become so prevalent in the world today.
She explores the issue of women and gender both in Islamic contexts, social and also the historical background. She conducts an extensive study of debates and ideologies about women within the Islamic societies and demonstrates how the debate is so prevalent in the current world. She advocated tat unveiling women could be a great step to transforming the social status of the Islamic societies.
His survey acted as a strong onset of the feminism within the Arab culture. According to Ahmed (23), Muslim men and women have expended a lot of effort in the attempt to discard the veil from their culture but others believe that the veil is important for feminist struggle. She demonstrates that the veil was a way used by the colonizers in order to promote their cultures in other territories forcing them to undermine their native culture. It is among other things a strategy of colonial domination in an area.
Some Muslim women in different part of the world demand it as their right to be allowed to choose whether to veil or not. The concept explored by Leila Ahmed is very vital and closely connected to the Inderpal Grewal’s “the regime of human rights”? According to Grewal (1), similar to Ahmed argument, oppression of women by global feminism comes in form of universalization and generalization of women issues and approaches.
This is oppressive because the women issues are not the same in all places in the world. There is very high correlation between the issues presented by Ahmed and that by Grewal because they both discuss issues related to women rights. They both argue that human rights are based on western notion that is generalized. The international organization present the western women as superior and they spill over their feminism notions to their third world counterparts without considering the cultural differences.
To achieve “a radical complexity in the practice of feminist politics” as termed by Grewal, women should be allowed to pursue their demand for women rights their own way depending on their culture. Homogenization and universalizing women problems deprives some women the right to deal with their issues the best way they can by forcing them to adopt the western culture.
Women oppression should not be homogenized or universalized because women in different countries differ in culture, politics or have social system that only suits their own problems. According to Ahmed, these are strategies to achieve western domination and erode the culture of women in minority communities.
Ahmed, Leila. “The Discourse of the Veil”. Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992.
Grewal, Inderpal. ‘Women’s Rights as Human Right: Feminist Practices, Global Feminism and Human Rights Regimes in Trans-nationality.” (PDF) Citizenship Studies 3, no. 3 (1999): 337–54