The Paradox of the Female Participation in Fundamentalist Movements


Throughout the world, religiously-oriented conservative political movements are well known for their defence of ‘traditional models’ in terms of both family conception and gender roles. Therefore, one should expect to find a limited social and political mobilization of women within them as well as in right-wing religiously conservative parties. However, many significant movements have built strong female branches in which militants usually perform roles apparently contradicting the religious conservative ideologies the movements support. This paper will show these dynamics in three case studies: the US Christian Right in the USA, the Hindu national religious movement (sangh parivar) in India, and the Islamist movement in Turkey. Its final section will compare the three cases, trying to find common patterns and to understand the reasons behind this apparent paradox.

Keywords: fundamentalist movements; gender roles; participation; religion; women


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