“Women, Religion and Politics"

Conference report

Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung and Shirkat Gah – Women’s Resource Centre hold an International conference on “Women, Religion and Politics” on 17-18 of March, 2011, at Holiday Inn Hotel, Lahore, where eminent speakers, discussants from International and National participated. The two day conference is the last in a series of events exploring the gendered dimensions of various religious and political paradigms and their impact on women’s’ lives in Pakistan and across the world. Ms. Saima Jasam and Ms. Fauzia Viqar moderated this conference.

March 25, 2011
Distinguished speakers, discussants and chairpersons, International scholars including Ms. Yesim Arat from Turkey, Ms. Magdalena Mosiewics from Poland, Dr. Hema Goonatilake from Sri Lanka, Ms. Homa Hoodfar from Iran, Professor Deirdre Good from USA, and Roshan Dhunjibhoy from Thailand, presented their papers and talked about the challenges faced by women in relation to the religion and politics. Speakers from Pakistan included Farida Shaheed, Sheen Farrukh, Sahar Gul, Ayesha Tammy Haq, Neelam Hussain, Dr Rubina Saigol, Nabiha Meher Sheikh, Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, Dr Anita Mir, Former Advisor to Prime Minister on Social Sector Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali, MNA Bushra Gohar, Shirkat Gah CEO Khawar Mumtaz, Shirkat Gah Research Director, Ms. Britta Petersen, Country Director HBS Pakistan, Justice (Retd) Mehta Kailash Nath Kohli from, Mr. Nishat Kazmi, and Mr. Naeem Shakir presented their papers and views in relation to the subject.

About 150-180 people attended this conference from all walks of life included academics, current and former government representatives, national and provincial parliamentarians, civil society representatives, students, media personnel, and women/human rights activists.

On the first day of the conference, it’s started with the formal welcome note given by Ms. Britta Petersen (country director of HBS) and Ms. Khawar Mumtaz (CEO of Shirkat Gah). They welcomed the guests and shed light of the importance of this conference in relation to 100 years of women’s international day. 

Ms. Anne Jenichen from Germany presented findings of a UNRISD study, focusing on the functions religion assumes in different national and cultural contexts, their implications for women and the role of democracy in helping women defend their rights against conservative interpretations of religion.

The two-day conferences ended with musical performance by Zeb and Haniya and poetry recitation by renowned feminist poet Kishwar Naheed. Zeb and Haniya performed “Chal diye” and a Turkish song called “Dalaar” while Kishwar Naheed recited her poems including “The grass is really like me” and “I am not that woman”and concluding remarks by Ms. Brita Petersen, Country Director of HBS, Pakistan.

Media Coverage: During the conference various channels and newspapers covered this event very well.

Final report of the international conference “Women, Religion and Politics”

Key Note Address: Reflections on the Refracted Dynamics of Gender, Politics and Religion