Title: Rhetoric v. Reality: Supporting the Fight for Muslim Women's Rights in Afghanistan and Europe
Publication Date: 10/22/10

Presented by The Wagner Women's Caucus (WWC) and the International Public Service Association (IPSA) The oppression of Muslim women is most vividly represented in Western media by the headscarf and burqua. Through these articles of clothing, which are in fact from pre-Islamic origins, Muslim women are viewed as invisible, secluded, and persecuted, in contrast to Western women who are represented as free and liberated. This fetishization of Muslim women has been used to evoke fear in Europe and the US, where governments use the veil to legitimate domestic and foreign policy agendas. More importantly, the rhetoric used to portray Muslim women obscures valid human rights concerns that receive little to no attention. This panel will bring together three leading women’s rights experts to discuss critical questions facing Muslim women and their rights. Why has the headscarf generated so much controversy? Where is the voice of the Muslim women who choose to cover and find it empowering? How has the rhetoric surrounding Muslim women been used to justify national and foreign policy agendas for Western nations? How can Muslim women be integrated into Western society? What are the biggest human rights issues that Muslim women face, both in the West and in Muslim-majority countries? After the panelists present there will be a Q&A session with the audience. Speakers for this event: John Gershman (Moderator) Clinical Associate Professor of Public Service, Associate Director of NYU's Global MPH Program, and Director of Undergraduate Programs at Wagner. Sunita Viswanath (formerly Mehta) Co-founder and board member, Women for Afghan Women; editor, Women for Afghan Women: Shattering Myths and Claiming the Future (Palgrave/St. Martins Press, October 2002); board member, Women in Media and News. Anushay Hossain Founder and blogger, Anushay’s Point blog; blogger, The Huffington Post; part of the Feminist Majority Foundation's Nobel Peace Prize nominated Campaign For Afghan Women; writer, Feministing, Ms. Magazine Blog, and NPR (National Public Radio). Sylvia Maier Adjunct Instructor, Center for Global Affairs; Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow, the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies; authored and co-authored numerous articles and book chapters, including "Honor Killings and the Cultural Defense in Germany," "Shared Values: Democracy and Human Rights in the European Neighborhood Policy," and "Empowering Women Through ICT-Based Business Initiatives: An Overview of Best Practices in E-Commerce/E-Retail Projects."

Author: NYU Wagner Office of International Programs
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