A multiculturalism-feminism dispute: Muslim women and the Sharia debate in Canada and Australia

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Canadian Muslim women, as opposed to their Australian counterparts, have attained prominent social status not only in terms of their contribution to electoral politics but also in other political spheres. With its focus on the Sharia debate, this paper investigates one potential explanation for this difference. Challenging Okin's feminist perspective, which claims that multiculturalism is an undesirable policy for emancipation, it is argued that multiculturalism facilitates agency of female members of Muslim communities. A comparative examination of the Sharia debate between the two secular countries of Canada and Australia demonstrates that the former's more robust multicultural polity in terms of responding to requests to adopt the Sharia have not only culminated in Muslim women's empowerment but have enhanced their political representation. In contrast, Australian Muslim women have neither had the opportunity to articulate their position with regard to Sharia nor to contribute to an important issue that could have empowered them.


Institute for Social Justice

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Journal Article

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ERA Access