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En-Gender-ing Legal Reforms: Islamic Law in Africa and East Asia


Pascale Fournier ,

University of Ottawa, CA
About Pascale
Pascale Fournier, Associate Professor and Vice-Dean for Research, Faculty of Law. We are grateful for the opportunity provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to undertake this research project on gender and Islamic law in Malaysia, Nigeria, Tunisia and Egypt. This research benefited greatly from the ideas and feedback of many people. Several external reviewers have kindly accepted to reassess our findings and to provide information on their experiences of working with justice systems based on Islamic law in a women’s rights context: Masjaliza Hamzah, Programme Manager (Research & Publications), Sisters in Islam, commented on Malaysia; Asma’u Joda and Bilkisu Yusuf, Centre for Women and Adolescent Empowerment, commented on Nigeria; Dr. Mounira Maya Charrad, University of Texas Department of Sociology, commented on Tunisia; and Mulki Al Sharmani, Social Research Centre, American University in Cairo, commented on Egypt. I wish to acknowledge their invaluable contribution. For their guidance and critical engagement at different stages of the project, special thanks go to: Nina Berg and Daniel E. Esser from UNDP, Rim Gtari (PhD specialised in Tunisian Islamic law), Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im (Emory), Asifa Quraishi (Wisconsin), Lynn Welchman (SOAS), Prabha Kotiswaran (SOAS), Ashgar Ali Mohamad (International Islamic University Malaysia), Hauwa Ibrahim (female Nigerian lawyer active in Islamic cases), Nogi Imoukhuede (Project coordinator of Rufarm in Nigeria) and Alia Hogbens (CCMW).
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Julia Nicol,

Human rights in Ottawa, CA
About Julia
Julia Nicol works as a legal analyst
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Anna Dekker

Ottawa, CA
About Anna
Anna Dekker is a policy lawyer working in the area of judicial affairs and the administration of civil and criminal courts.
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Women have been an integral part of the particular form of revolution that has erupted across the Arab world since early 2011. As part of their participation, women have articulated concrete demands for reform that reflect their aspirations for gender equality. Knowledge and understanding of existing circumstances are essential for meaningful and lasting change. Thus, this article attempts to bring to light the relationship between gender equality and Islamic law in various contexts, by comparing the cases of Malaysia, Nigeria, Tunisia and Egypt, both in terms of the legal reforms implemented at the national level, as well as the practical reality of women’s lived experiences. Specific attention is given to existing substantive law, normative frameworks, institutions, procedures and enforcement and how all of these elements affect gender relations.

How to Cite: Fournier, P., Nicol, J. and Dekker, A., 2011. En-Gender-ing Legal Reforms: Islamic Law in Africa and East Asia. Amsterdam Law Forum, 3(2), pp.103–129. DOI:
Published on 01 Apr 2011.
Peer Reviewed


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