Our daily‐work has involved people from Australia, India, London, New York, Malaysia, Germany and Singapore. We thank our members for their dedication and hard work that has benefited women’s rights in Afghanistan.
Promoting Women’s Inheritance Rights February 2012- July 2012
Femin Ijtihad worked closely (pro bono) with Natasha Latiff during her tenure with Women and Children Legal Research Foundation (WCLRF) to develop an innovative and participatory training methodology and manual for community mobilizers in Kabul and Jalalabad, on women’s economic rights. The focus was mainly on inheritance rights, identified amongst the most significant factors behind women’s economic empowerment and in the eradication of gender-based poverty. The project was innovative for a) its use of illustrations as a teaching method on inheritance-divisions, b) promoting women’s inheritance rights with the least emphasis on the language of “women’s rights” (a contentious subject in conservative areas), and d) promoting an understanding of the multiplier effect of women’s economic empowerment to the community and nation. 12 community conversations have been held. 180 community members, leaders, educators and religious elders in Kabul and Jalalabad participated in these conversations.
Challenges: Backlash from men who view “women’s rights” as a foreign concept. We had anticipated this and had built in “responses” to ensure we addressed this concern and utilized local reference points and religious reasoning.
Strategic and Shariah-based Litigation for Women’s Rights May – July 2012
The aim of the project was to train lawyers on how to strategically select, analyse and present Islamic legal arguments as supplements or interpretive tools to apply provisions of the Afghan law in a gender-equitable manner. The training focused on women’s rights cases involving child custody, rape, adultery and separation due to harm. The project activities entailed a) scholarly research and case aw analysis, b) strategically linking those interpretations with Afghan law, c) conducting a 3-day training in Kabul to 24 lawyers and social workers from Medica Afghanistan and Women for Afghan Women on litigating these cases.
Reviewing the Afghan Family Law Draft December 2009 – February 2010
- In December 2009, Acting Director Zia Moballegh of Rights and Democracy in Kabul, requested F.I. to review the inaugural Afghan Family Code on behalf of the Afghan Family Law Drafting Committee. Ten members of the F.I. Team from Malaysia, U.K., Singapore and the United States formed a committee to review the draft law by comparing it with the family codes and law commission reports of Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, Singapore, and the U.K. The draft law was reviewed for potential implications on women and children’s rights, comportment with Islamic family law, and consistency with legal language and phraseology. Rights and Democracy is a Canadian sponsored not-for-profit organization that supports the reform of the Afghan Family Law and rule of law initiatives in Afghanistan.
- We also invited feedback from scholars of Islamic and family law and anthropology lawyers and drafting experts to critique the draft. This included the efforts of a range of 13 scholars, lawyers and activists including:
- Mohammad Fadel, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto
- Kecia Ali, Assistant Professor of Religion, Boston University
- Ayesha Shahid, Associate Professor, Hull School of Law, U.K.
- Robert Aluffi, Associate Professor of Law and Anthropology, University of Turin, Italy
- Maya Shatzmiller, Professor of Conflict Resolution and Foreign Policy in Multi-ethnic states, University of Western Ontario
- Rajiv S. Khanna, Immigration Lawyer and Managing Director of Rajiv S. Khanna Law Offices in D.C.
- Rebecca Probert, Professor of Law, University of Warwick Law
- Members of the Malaysian-based group ‘Sisters in Islam’
- Halijah Mohamad, Attorney in Practice and Managing Director of Halijah Mohamad & Company
Our feedback was commended by the Acting Country Director of Rights and Democracy in Kabul for its thoughtful review which assisted greatly in facilitating the drafting process.
Case Law Program; gender-equity in jurisprudence 2010-2012
The Case Law Program has been an important part of F.I.’s contribution to the discourse of women’s rights in the legal system. 10 lawyers in Singapore, India and London reviewed over 50 landmark judgments in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India on women’s rights. These reviews were not mere summaries of cases. They served as advocacy tools aimed to show lawyers how judges dissect key legal questions, and how through the coherent and innovative use of statutory and Islamic law, they awarded gender-equitable outcomes in favour of female litigants.
Click here to view case reviews
The Case Law Program will train lawyers how to cite, deconstruct and confidently present women’s Islamic rights during case preparation and litigation in courts, on a series of issues such as: maintenance, rape, zina, child custody, right of mahr, divorce and others.
50 Working Groups on Women’s Rights and Agency 2008 – 2010
Femin Ijtihad has conducted over 50 Working Group discussions with student activists, journalists, lawyers and researchers from various social sciences backgrounds. These Working Groups have taken place in-house, within universities and online involving participants from Germany, Italy, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, London, United States and Afghanistan – and students from top-tier programs at Harvard, Cambridge, NYU, The New School, Fordham, National University of Singapore, School of Oriental and African Studies, Oxford, Warwick University and others.
The Working Groups sought to train participants on more nuanced and multi-dimensional ways of analyzing theories and ideas through utilizing multiple disciplines as lenses into re-understanding Muslim women’s agency and rights. It encouraged participants to think about how theory can inform practice and vice versa to enrich current philosophies and programs relating to gender equality in Muslim societies.
Participant’s analyses’ of women’s rights were transcribed into dialogues. Lessons learned have been incorporated into F.I.’s work with legal aid and research organizations in Afghanistan.
- Femin Ijtihad is currently active in Afghanistan and has recently provided support for appeals for legal analysis of campaigns (e.g. to stop stoning of adulterers) and cases which have recently involved young women, e.g. Gulnaz case where a victim of a rape assault was offered to marry her rapist in exchange for prison. These legal analyses are important for activists to lobby for legal accountability and check that lawyers are submitting the arguments that respect human rights.
- Femin Ijtihad has also worked to contribute to a recent conference on Women’s Property and Inheritance Rights organized by Women and Children Legal Research Foundation. F.I. is now a member of the Advocacy Committee. We will support efforts to review the implementation of the National Strategy to secure women’s access to and control of land and property.
- We have over the 2 years supported the efforts of a number Afghan activists and lawyers by providing and explaining academic scholarship on women’s rights in Islamic law. This was conducted by Natasha Latiff in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2009 where she contributed to the documentation and feedback of women’s rights in Islamic criminal law (rape, adultery and domestic violence) and Islamic family law (in the review of the inaugural Afghan Family Code) that included participants from U.N Mission in Afghanistan, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNIFEM Afghanistan, Afghan Family Law Drafting Committee and 30 judges, lawyers and activists. Natasha Latiff also initiated discussions on women’s rights in Islam with village Afghans in Kabul where she lived for 3 months.
- F.I. has also provided prompt research assistance to 15 activists and lawyers in Afghanistan, Malaysia and Singapore to assist in lobbying and programming activities on women’s rights.
- F.I. has attended and been represented in 9 different forums and conferences over a period of 2 years. A number of our members have also been congratulated and highly commended for their substantial participation and thoughtful contribution to these events. These include:
- The Clinton Global Initiative University 2008, 2009, and 2010 annual conferences (New Orleans, Texas, Miami, respectively)
- MUSAWAH: Equality for Muslim Women 2009 (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia);
- SEAMUS Indonesian Study Visit 2009 (Jakarta, Indonesia);
- One World Week Afghanistan Conference 2009
- Conference for the Study of Islam and Democracy 2009;
- Soroptimist International: A Global Voice for Women (Warwick, U.K.) 2010;
- Women’s Learning Partnership’s March 2010 Conference on “Vision 2020: Mobilizing for Women’s Rights and Eliminating Violence Against Women
- Hidden in Plain Sight Conference (New York; October, 2010)
- Islamic Feminism Conference (Madrid; October 2010)