Islamic women's activism may appear as a contradiction in terms to Western audiences used to presentations of Islam as counterproductive to women's empowerment. Yet, in the Arab world many different actors work to enhance women's participation, agency and authority based on Islamic arguments and references – be that as scholars, as charity and welfare providers, as religious activists or as politicians.
This Islamic women's activism complements secular approaches, as it reaches out to other audiences and in many cases enjoys a wider local legitimacy. It is now more important than ever in the context of the so-called 'Arab Spring' where Islamic actors are gaining ground.
Accordingly, Islamic women's activists also constitute potentially important future partners for external actors (bilateral and multilateral aid agencies, women's organizations etc.) who wish to contribute to Arab women's empowerment, participation, agency and authority. But how are they to be addressed? And what are the potentials – and challenges – of such collaboration?
These are some of the questions addressed in a DIIS Report and a DIIS Policy Brief written by DIIS Researcher Julie Pruzan-Jørgensen