What should women expect of a secular State?

Isabel Turégano

Abstract

Freedom of religion is a basic principle to any legal and political system that assumes the essential relevance of human freedom. However, other equally basic rights can be affected if that freedom is interpreted as autonomy of religion with respect to politics, protecting religious groups as given and closed realities. In its more consistent sense with gender equality, freedom of religion should require that other rights are not affected by intervention of religious communities. This does not involve a necessary contradiction between gender and religion if an open and plural conception of religions as communities of conversation is assumed. From this, religious freedom is not incompatible with the legitimate function of political institutions, domestic and international, to promote the egalitarian elements of religious traditions, encouraging internal debate and supporting the internal groups that try to overcome discrimination. Institutions truly committed to religious freedom should act so as women are no longer treated as mere subject of debate but actors in it, with a reflective and active role in their own religious tradition. A different conception of religions as holistic and static realities and favorable to treat religious arguments as exception to general normative models is incompatible with secularism and the gender equality that it should especially promote.

Keywords

Secularism; Gender equality; State; Religion; Culture

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/fem.2016.28.02





Copyright (c) 2016 Isabel Turégano

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