Women’s rights, Gender and Religion

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4th October 2018,

Holy Trinity Church, Rue Capitaine Crespel 29, 1050 Brussels


The European Network on Religion and Belief, as an EU Anti-Discrimination Network, promotes EU fundamental rights, equality and combats discrimination and hate crime on any grounds. This seminar will thus seek to engage all religion and belief systems in tackling discrimination and developing progressive narratives in the specific fields of women’s rights and gender.


The increase in hate crimes and violent speech, targeting, women, religious and ethnic minorities and LGBT minorities has been building over several years, but is now becoming almost normalised online and offline, also legitimised by hate speech from representatives of government and political parties in some parts of Europe.

Recent political campaigns and legislative discussions in some member states, based on misogynist and xenophobic narratives rooted in the male-dominated past, have empowered hate mongers to feel they have the right to express  racist and sexist views more and more openly, sometime turning the words into violent actions.

The religious right has contributed to this context by promoting a version of “traditional values” based on traditions of patriarchy, and repressive regulation of freedom and sexual and reproductive rights, which have the effect of legitimising the real and symbolic violence against women, as well as LGBT, ethnic, religious and other minorities.


The seminar will follow up themes developed in the 2017 exploratory European seminar co-organised with EWL (European Women Lobby) which first addressed these challenges and sought to build positive narratives around religion, belief and gender. It will also draw on the experience gained through the  ENORB/ILGA programme of seminars in member states on religion and LGBT+ rights, and a previous ENORB seminar on countering far right extremism.

The seminar will consist of sessions on women in positions of leadership; on violence against women and the valuable inputs from religion to prevent it; on the manufactured gender wars derived from false concepts of ’traditional values’; and on the search for intersectional feminisms among women from ethnic and religious minorities. 

Keynote speeches and round tables will give participants a unique opportunity to discuss challenges, develop positive narratives and explore best practice in the struggle for justice for women and minorities.




9.30 Welcome speech

Kahina Rabahi, ENORB 


10.00 Current priorities for Women’s Rights and Religion in Europe

Heidi Rautionmaa, on feminist theology and women leadership- Faiths without Borders,

Elisa Van Ruiten, on violence against women and religion-, Human rights without frontiers,

Federica Sona, on reproductive rights in Islam – Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, 


12.00 LUNCH


13.00 The Specific Issues faced by Women from Religious/Ethnics Minorities : The need for intersectionality

Julie Pascoët, on an intersectional anti-racist movement –European Network Against Racism (ENAR)

Perspectives from different religious groups:   

Hajar Eljahidi, on islamophobia in patriarchy-European Forum of Organisations of Muslim Women (EFOMW)      

Mejindarpal Kaur, on specific challenges faced by Sikhs women – United Sikhs

Estelle Cincinatis, on anti-semitism and patriarchy in Europe, European Jewish Community Centre (EJCC)

Malati devi dasi, on Hindu women challenges and solutions, ISKCON Radhadesh Belgium

15.00 Tea-coffee break         


15.15 Debunking and challenging the conflict between gender and sexual minorities and religion

Najwa Ouguerram, on homonationalism, Centre for Intersectional Justice (CIJ)

Florin Buhuceanu, on using religious tools and narratives for Human Rights of minorities -Euroregional center for public initiatives (ECPI)


17.15 Closing speech, religion a powerful tool toward liberation

Malika Hamidi, on lessons learned from Islamic feminism for social justice movements, author, Doctor in Sociology