Women and Religious Freedom

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which I chair, released a report this summer called “Women and Religious Freedom: Synergies and Opportunities,” written by Oxford professor Nazila Ghanea. Although the commission focuses exclusively on religious freedom issues outside the US, the report is all too timely given the debate in the US over female genital mutilation, a deplorable practice found in many places around the world and increasingly in the West.

The new report on women and religious freedom begins with a critical problem: Religious freedom and the rights of women and girls sometimes appear to be in conflict due to the abuse of women in the name of religion in some places. The report aims to change this perception, and, in this way, implicitly carries both philosophical and political aims. On the philosophical side, the challenge is to explain how religion freedom and women’s rights do indeed complement one another despite the manifold examples of oppression in the name of religion. Politically, the report can be a catalyst for cooperation between advocates for religious freedom and advocates for women’s rights, two groups that do collaborate much nowadays. In showing significant overlap between the two families of rights, the report points to the fertile ground that exists for working together. Religious freedom and women’s rights both stand to benefit from such work.

About the author

Daniel Mark

Daniel Mark is an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University and chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. For the 2017-18 academic year, he is a visiting fellow at the University of Notre Dame. The views he expresses here are his own and not those of any of the institutions with which he is affiliated.

© Daniel Philpott The views expressed in this forum are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily represent those of Daniel Philpott, CCHR, or the University of Notre Dame.