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Women’s Activism in Islamist Organizations: The Jamaat-e-Islami in India and Pakistan Jane Menon Ph.D. Candidate University of Michigan.

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Presentation on theme: "Women’s Activism in Islamist Organizations: The Jamaat-e-Islami in India and Pakistan Jane Menon Ph.D. Candidate University of Michigan."— Presentation transcript:

1 Women’s Activism in Islamist Organizations: The Jamaat-e-Islami in India and Pakistan Jane Menon Ph.D. Candidate University of Michigan

2 Research Question  Why does the quality of women’s activism in Islamist organizations vary?  Why would the same organization promote gender equality in some settings and gender inequality in others? Source: Youth Wing of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Maharashtra Facebook Page, 1 May 2013.

3 Gender and Political Participation  INDIVIDUAL SUPPLY (interest + skills + resources)  Women lag men in South Asia HDI indicators  JI members uniquely literate, urban, lower-middle class  INSTITUTIONAL DEMAND (democracy + quotas)  Comparable voter turnout in recent elections  Longer history of quotas in Pakistan + quotas at all levels of government  INTERNATIONAL INFLUENCES (treaties + NGOs) An organization-level theory of variation is missing.

4 Argument Preview  MACRO-LEVEL EXPLANATION: Variation in co-education  Women’s participation in Islamist groups depends on men  Effects on gender relations, not women’s achievement  MICRO-LEVEL EXPLANATION: A critical juncture in India  Side effect was dramatic rise in women’s total numbers + quality of participation  Signs it is sticking

5 The Jamaat-e-Islami Founded in 1941 by Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maududi Social movement and political party with hundreds of thousands of supporters Same organizational structure Same ideology and goals Tiered membership Map of South Asia. Source: vbmap.org

6 Membership: roughly 3000 women members and 900,000 total affiliates (0.3%) Recent campaigns include support for hijab, love for Prophet Muhammad, opposition to obscenity, opposition to the US and Israel Public rallies are not mixed, women do not speak at them, women’s attendance in the 100s A few women related to senior officials have served in parliament, women hold no formal positions in the national leadership or political party JIP women march in Lahore on World Hijab Day, Source: The Express Tribune, 4 September Women in the Pakistani Jamaat

7 Membership: 853 women members and total affiliates (0.2%) Recent campaigns include women’s mosque entry, opposition to female foeticide and domestic violence, support for a new Telangana state Women attend and speak at public rallies, women’s attendance routinely in the 10,000s for major events Quotas for women in the national leadership council, women have prominent positions in the political party, non-elite women compete in elections JIH Women’s Power for Social Revolution Conference in Kuttippuram, Kerala. Estimated attendance 150,000 men and women. Source: The Hindu, 25 January Women in the Indian Jamaat

8 A Critical Juncture in India  Membership surges in one specific period =  Change in leadership  Change in mission  Change in political environment  Stickiness, costly signals, and credible commitments Dr. M.A.H. Ansari (1931 – 2012), former President of JI in India. Source: JIH

9 Co-education in India  95% of students in government schools (NYT 12/30/2011)  96% government schools co- ed (HRD Ministry, 2010)  Madrasas in West Bengal, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh (through 2009)  Many JI schools co-ed  JI girl’s curriculum = religion + secular subjects Male and female students study together in a West Bengal madrasa. Source: The National, 15 March 2009.

10 Co-education Effects MECHANISMS:  Neutral male-female interactions (women as individuals)  Cooperation and friendship (women as partners)  Academic competition (women as leaders)  Women should do more than make cups of tea, “Women should play an important role in the development of the society.” – Dr. Muhammad Abdul Haq Ansari, JIH Amir (“Dogs get better treatment than women in West,” Times of India, 13 February 2006.)  “Jamaat is the true Islam. Women should not stay in the home. They should also work for society.” – JIH male member, personal interview, 2010

11 Co-education in Pakistan  90% students in government schools (Ashraf 2009)  25% primary students in co-ed schools (Pakistan Ministry of Education 2007)  JI schools are NOT co-educational, major expansion of JI educational networks since 1990  JI girl’s curriculum focuses on religious studies

12 Research Significance  Public policy implication = state mandates and/or support for co-education  Model for reformers in male-dominated organizations  Diversify membership for men and women  Focus on small-scale acts of participation not ideology  Local and state politics matter more than national politics  Broadens views of Islamist feminism  Men voluntarily share power and rely on women for organization growth and success  Women’s substantive participation can expand rapidly

13 Thank you Jane Menon Ph.D. Candidate University of Michigan

14 Gender and Politics in South Asia Pakistan  Literacy  67% for men  40% for women  Work Participation Rate  88% for men  22% for women  Political Empowerment  Women in National Assembly: 76 (22%)  Women in ministerial positions: 8  Years with female head of state (last 50): 5  Representation quotas: 33% at the local and provincial levels; 17% in the lower house and 18% in the upper house India  Muslim Literacy  59% for men  50% for women  Muslim Work Participation Rate  48% for men  14% for women  Political Empowerment  Women in Lok Sabha: 59 (11%)  Women in ministerial positions: 10  Years with female head of state (last 50): 17  Representation quotas: 33-50% at the local level; limited provincial and no national-level legislative quotas Sources: World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Report, 2010; Census of India, 2001; QuotaProject.org 2011.

15 MICRO-LEVEL DEMAND: JIP Record on Women  ”The party requires women to sit in the assembly for numbers. Otherwise, we are only here to create human beings, not governments.” –-Samia Raheel Qazi, former MNA and current JIP Women’s Wing President (The Friday Times, 17 November 2002)  ‘The solution to woman’s problems does not involve conflict with man and opposition to him, but the solution lies in adopting a positive attitude and creating and understanding between man and woman and by effecting changes in the behaviour of man in keeping with the tenets of Islam.’ –-Aisha Munawwar, former MNA and JIP Women’s Wing President (Dawn, 9 March 2003)  JIP Amir Qazi Hussain Ahmad declines to meet with women journalists covering a JI women’s meeting near Peshawar. (Dawn, 3 October 2004)  In the 2005 and 2013 general elections, JIP enters into an agreement with other religio-political parties in various districts of Khyber Paktunkhwa province to bar women from voting. (Dawn, 26 August 2005 and 10 May 2013)

16 MICRO-LEVEL DEMAND: JIH Record on Indian Women  “The women of the early Islamic history were not kept aloof from political activities. They not only had the knowledge of the current political conditions of the period, but also had keen insight into it. For the security of the Islamic state, they struggled hard, offered sacrifices, gave instructions to the Caliphs and the riches [sic], gave them their suggestions and offered political services according to the situation. It is but a fact that women also joined the battles with Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and with his Companions and extended their help in so many ways.” – Syed Jalaluuddin Umari, Women in Islam, 2001, p. 86 – Current JIH Amir Syed Jalaluddin Umari, Women in Islam, 2001, pg. 85  “Nothing can block the way of ladies, you can go on.” – JIH Kerala President T Arif Ali, remarks at the Kuttippuram women’s conference, 2010  “Islam advocates the protection of women’s rights, but men-dominated society hides the facts. Women themselves should know about their rights and learn to snatch them if denied.” – Nasira Khanum, state women’s wing chief (“Fight injustice, Jamaat tells Muslim women,” Times of India, 14 February 2006.)  “Muslim women should surge ahead in socio-political spheres… Prove your mettle.” - KK Fatima Zuhra, JIH Kerala State Women’s Wing President remarks at the Kuttippuram women’s conference, 2010

17 Research Design and Approach  Comparative case study of the Jamaat-e-Islami (“Islamic Party”) in India and Pakistan  Multiple visits to India between 2005 and 2011; interviews with Jamaat leaders and lay affiliates, participant observation of group events; collection of primary source documents  Ongoing content analysis of group media and publications  Ongoing review of secondary source materials, including newspapers, government reports, and academic writing


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