The conference will address to what extent legal reforms affecting women (family law, nationality law, criminal law, electoral law, labour codes) have led to political change and whether these have affected state-society relations on the formal and the informal levels and gender relations more generally. One of the aim is to overcome the paradigm that sees women's groups - secular feminists and Islamist women - and the state in strictly "divisional" terms - i.e. the women's groups being somehow in clear opposition to each other and to the state, and to consider to a greater extent the overlap between these groups. Attention will be given to the cooperation between formal and informal actors within the family law reform process and the question of who is allowed to participate in this process and subsequently able to shape the outcome of it. How have the CEDAW-convention and the international discourse on women shaped the way in which these different groups try to advance their claims and their ability to influence the process?
Most of the recent family law reforms were achieved through an effort of ijtihād. What was the impact of progressive and conservative jurists during the process? What kind of arguments were used during the different reforms to re-evaluate legal texts? Was there some degree of regional cooperation among jurists in their effort to reinterpret the laws? And can we speak of a regional “homogenization” of arguments used during different reform processes?
Moreover, one of the less researched questions about legal reforms and the heightened presence of women's rights discourse is whether these processes have affected social reality and, if yes, in what ways. Has the state ensured the application of the laws? Are laws truly ameliorating women's legal status and creating gender equality, or does a careful reading of the text of the law reveal reconsolidation of patriarchal family and gender relations?
Dörthe Engelcke, Katja Zvan Elliott, Eskandar Sadeghi
St Antony's College
University of Oxford
62 Woodstock Rd
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