In this International Women’s Day episode of —between the lines— IDS researcher, Mariz Tadros, speaks to Ayesha Khan about her book The Women’s Movement in Pakistan: Activism, Islam and Democracy.
The military rule of General Zia ul-Haq, former President of Pakistan, had significant political repercussions for the country. Islamization policies were far more pronounced and control over women became the key marker of the state’s adherence to religious norms. Women’s rights activists mobilized as a result, campaigning to reverse oppressive policies and redefine the relationship between state, society and Islam. Their calls for a liberal democracy led them to be targeted and suppressed. This book is a history of the modern women’s movement in Pakistan.
Ayesha Khan argues that the demand for a secular state and resistance to Islamization should not be misunderstood as Pakistani women sympathizing with a western agenda. Rather, their work is a crucial contribution to the evolution of the Pakistani state.
Ayesha Khan is with the Collective for Social Science Research in Karachi. She works on gender and development, social policy, refugee and conflict issues.
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Music credit: Crypt of Insomnia/One Day in Africa (instrumental version)/Getty Images