Religious Extremism: A Threat to Women’s Rights?

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Religious Extremism: A Threat to Women’s Rights?

7th March 2022 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Religious extremism is one of the greatest threats to the world in the 21st century. There have been countless affronts to women’s rights under the guise of adhering to religious standards, both implicit and explicit. In several cases, increasingly rigid gender stereotypes have been enforced alongside restrictions on women’s daily activities, reproductive rights, and appearance.

The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to welcome you to the panel discussion, which will address this phenomenon and discuss how women can be empowered in religious communities across the world.



Dr Rakib Ehsan is a research fellow who sits in both the Henry Jackson Society’s Centre on Radicalisation & Terrorism (CRT) and Centre on Social & Political Risk (CSPR). He holds a BA in Politics & International Relations (First-Class Honours), MSc in Democracy, Politics and Governance (Pass with Distinction), and a PhD in Political Science, all obtained from Royal Holloway, University of London. His PhD thesis, which was comprehensively sponsored by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC), investigated the impact of social integration on the public attitudes of British non-white ethnic minorities.

Since joining the Henry Jackson Society in March 2019, Dr Ehsan has authored a number of reports incorporating matters of social cohesion and national security, including Muslim Anti-Semitism in Contemporary Great Britain and Weaponising COVID-19: Far-Right Anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom and United States.

Following last month’s Texas synagogue siege, he authored articles for the Jewish Chronicle, Mail Plus, CapX and Sp!ked on antisemitism in British Muslim communities. He is a patron of the interfaith charity Muslims Against Antisemitism (MAAS).



Yehudis Fletcher is an ISVA at Migdal Emunah where she advocates for people whose lives have been impacted by sexual abuse and a cofounder of Nahamu, a think tank countering extremism in the UK. Last year she co-authored a ground-breaking position paper on forced marriage in the Jewish community. She is a student of Social Policy at the University of Salford.



Khadija Khan is a journalist and commentator based in the UK. She writes for different publications, focusing on human rights, mainly women’s rights, as well as minorities and extremism.



Isabel Sawkins is a Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. She has a BA in Modern Languages at Durham University and an MA in Political Sociology of Russia and Eastern Europe at UCL. She is currently completing a PhD on Holocaust memory in the Russian Federation at the University of Exeter, funded by the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council). Isabel has presented her research at numerous international conferences. She has also published her findings in academic journals, as well as contributing to online media outlets. Isabel’s most recent accomplishment was the curation of an online exhibition about a Nazi death camp in occupied Poland.




On the 7th of March Isabel Sawkins, Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, Dr Rakib Ehsan, Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, Khadija Khan, a journalist and commentator, and Yehudis Fletcher, Co-Founder of Nahamu, discussed how women can be empowered in religious communities across the world in the face of religious extremism.

Isabel Sawkins began the discussion by introducing the speakers and topic of discussion. Yehudis Fletcher then spoke about her work in tackling extremism and the difference between outward and inward facing extremism. She then talked about the difficulty of drawing a line between extremism and conservatism and closed with a series of remarks about extremism within the Haredi community. Khadija Khan spoke about the struggle of Muslim women to achieve equal rights in the face of conservative movements and how some religious and political beliefs condone misogyny, giving the example of the 1990 Cairo declaration. She also spoke of how the regressive left excuse religious misogyny. Dr Ehsan spoke about how self-appointed community leaders are massive force in using religion to argue for female subjugation within their own communities. He argued it is an issue ignored by the mainstream and how poor English language skills exacerbate the problem of domestic violence

The event then closed with a series of questions from the audience which asked, how to help Muslim women as a western male, what can be done to help women in Muslim and Haredi communities and what can be done to strengthen state education.



7th March 2022
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


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