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Empowerment or Estrangement: Liberal Feminism's Visions of the “Progress” of Muslim Women
U. Balt. L. Rev.
  • Cyra Akila Choudhury
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Yet, many women in the global South reject this characterization of their existence. In the second part of the article, I offer some examples of Muslim women's visions of flourishing that show both overlap with liberal values and, more importantly, divergence. I propose that Muslim women's adherence to religion must be accepted as legitimate expressions of flourishing even if we, as Western feminists, are skeptical about the freedom of their choice. I urge feminists who have continued to be extremely incredulous about Muslim women's choices to live according to Islam, to re-evaluate and see these women as exerting power in their own lives.


This paper presents some thoughts on the progress of Muslim women towards gender justice. It argues that Liberal Legal feminism shares a common understanding of history and progress with those Liberal political theories that justified the British Empire. Because of this genealogy, Liberal feminism seeks to reform cultures and societies that do not comport with a particular Liberal teleology that forecloses the expression of alternative ideas of history, progress, and human flourishing. It further argues that Muslim women's organizations that partner with Northern organizations sometimes seek to fulfill Liberal expectations of victimhood at the hands of their culture. The consequence is that they often reap estrangement rather than empowerment. Finally, the paper raises some concerns about the feminist engagement with the state and with the international as a way of promoting women's progress.

Citation Information
Cyra Akila Choudhury. "Empowerment or Estrangement: Liberal Feminism's Visions of the “Progress” of Muslim Women" U. Balt. L. Rev. Vol. 39 (2009) p. 1
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