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Isobel Coleman: Islamic Feminism

Andrew Walsh
07/22/2010 at 8:00 p.m.

Despite major strides in women's rights over the past century, American women still struggle with widespread discrimination. But the levels of intolerance and inequality that women face in many Middle Eastern countries can seem downright insurmountable by comparison. Feminism as we know it has not taken root in countries where Islamic law and conservative traditions combine to deny women a voice.

Author and scholar Isobel Coleman travelled around the Middle East to meet with people fighting to change that. Muslim activists are working within their religious laws and finding creative ways to push back against centuries of discrimination. According to Coleman, the term "Islamic feminism" doesn't have to be an oxymoron.

Isobel Coleman is senior fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy and director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. Her latest book is "Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women Are Transforming the Middle East." She spoke at Town Hall Seattle on May 17, 2010. Her talk was presented by the Town Hall Center for Civic Life and the Elliott Bay Book Company.

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