Agents of Change

Women’s Religious Practice and Development Engagement in Pakistan

In: Religion and Gender
Kaja Borchgrevink Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)

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This article examines the intersection of religion, gender and development through an analysis of religious practice and development engagement among women activists in two religio-political aid organizations in contemporary Pakistan. Situated on the margins of the mainstream aid and development field, these women are rarely conceded agents of development. Yet focusing on improving women’s position and wellbeing, their activities are similar to those of many other development NGO s. As part of religio-political movements advancing gender complementarity and segregation, women’s activism and conceptions of development reflect a particular intersection of religion, gender and class. A close read of women’s discourse and practice reveals how women interpret and appropriate Islamic teachings, local cultural practices, and global norms by balancing ideology and pragmatism. In the process of negotiating, upholding and resisting norms and practices, these activists can be seen as active agents of change in their local contexts.

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