The question of integrating Muslim migrants in European cities has been, for decades, a political issue. The image of Muslim women, described as submissive and as a symbol of backwardness of Islam was the central argument around which right wing parties built the incompatibility of Islam with human rights and western values. Islam has however proven to be a tool for finding a common ground on the theme of human rights and it has also shown to be a great instrument for Muslim women to negotiate their rights with parents and community members. However, integration policies trying to create peaceful and intercultural communities in Europe are often blind to the effects of religious and cultural activities targeting women of Islamic background in building a bridge and common understanding of human rights. Agency, interpreted as the ability to make conscious decisions, can derive from different sets of values and ideologies. Scholars of intersectionality have criticized the western feminist perspective that agency is solely achieved through the rejection of cultural norms and have proven that in non-western cultures, such as in the case of Islamic culture, agency may be achieved through piety and the sense of belonging. The thesis codified the concept of agency based on four different scholarly interpretations of its meaning, one of which looks at agency through an intersectional lens and accepts religion and identity as recognized tools for agency. The discourse analysis in the research looks at the relations between the narrative focusing on the integration approach and integration frame, and that of gender, intersectionality and agency. In this way the findings can show a nexus between the way in which integration is framed at the local level and the kind of women empowerment programs offered through integration initiatives. Based on the findings of the Critical Frame Analysis of the available local policy documents on migrants’ integration and of the interviews conducted with a strategically selected number of program providers in the case studies of Brussels and Berlin, it is clear that policy makers not only ignore the many studies on Muslim women’s religiosity in Europe but do not respect the European Union legislation regarding gender mainstreaming. The thesis will show that despite the different narratives applied by policy makers in different European cities regarding migrants’ integration, a common pattern is that of a lacking gender perspective. Whether the predominant frame of their discourse is assimilationist or multicultural the gender perspective remains superficial and so are the guidelines for the work of NGOs and programs financed through these policies. Initiatives targeting women are never the focus of integration policies but are rather left to the local departments of Family Affairs or Equal Opportunities, de-gendering the concept of migrants’ integration and focusing on women solely in regard to strategic “gender” issues. From the results of the analysis it is clear that multicultural policies are more likely to finance bottom up initiatives of migrant women’s groups, but the lack of a clear gender perspective and limited funds may prevent a clear and effective support from the local institutions to identity based activities. The assimilationist approach, however, not only focuses on limiting identity based activities but purposely limits funding to gender activities. This is allegedly done to avoid further fragmentations in the building of “social cohesion” but it has a clear securitarian approach as it aims to prevent the segregation of Muslim women and the perpetration of traditional Muslim norms. The potential of a more gender approached and multicultural structure of integration policies and discourse could be the key to solving the issue of the alleged incompatibility between Islam and human rights.

Muslim Women's Agency in European Integration Policies from a Human Rights Perspective: the case of Brussels and Berlin / Ghanem, CRISTINA YASMIN. - (2020 Dec 10).

Muslim Women's Agency in European Integration Policies from a Human Rights Perspective: the case of Brussels and Berlin

Cristina Yasmin, Ghanem
2020-12-10

Abstract

The question of integrating Muslim migrants in European cities has been, for decades, a political issue. The image of Muslim women, described as submissive and as a symbol of backwardness of Islam was the central argument around which right wing parties built the incompatibility of Islam with human rights and western values. Islam has however proven to be a tool for finding a common ground on the theme of human rights and it has also shown to be a great instrument for Muslim women to negotiate their rights with parents and community members. However, integration policies trying to create peaceful and intercultural communities in Europe are often blind to the effects of religious and cultural activities targeting women of Islamic background in building a bridge and common understanding of human rights. Agency, interpreted as the ability to make conscious decisions, can derive from different sets of values and ideologies. Scholars of intersectionality have criticized the western feminist perspective that agency is solely achieved through the rejection of cultural norms and have proven that in non-western cultures, such as in the case of Islamic culture, agency may be achieved through piety and the sense of belonging. The thesis codified the concept of agency based on four different scholarly interpretations of its meaning, one of which looks at agency through an intersectional lens and accepts religion and identity as recognized tools for agency. The discourse analysis in the research looks at the relations between the narrative focusing on the integration approach and integration frame, and that of gender, intersectionality and agency. In this way the findings can show a nexus between the way in which integration is framed at the local level and the kind of women empowerment programs offered through integration initiatives. Based on the findings of the Critical Frame Analysis of the available local policy documents on migrants’ integration and of the interviews conducted with a strategically selected number of program providers in the case studies of Brussels and Berlin, it is clear that policy makers not only ignore the many studies on Muslim women’s religiosity in Europe but do not respect the European Union legislation regarding gender mainstreaming. The thesis will show that despite the different narratives applied by policy makers in different European cities regarding migrants’ integration, a common pattern is that of a lacking gender perspective. Whether the predominant frame of their discourse is assimilationist or multicultural the gender perspective remains superficial and so are the guidelines for the work of NGOs and programs financed through these policies. Initiatives targeting women are never the focus of integration policies but are rather left to the local departments of Family Affairs or Equal Opportunities, de-gendering the concept of migrants’ integration and focusing on women solely in regard to strategic “gender” issues. From the results of the analysis it is clear that multicultural policies are more likely to finance bottom up initiatives of migrant women’s groups, but the lack of a clear gender perspective and limited funds may prevent a clear and effective support from the local institutions to identity based activities. The assimilationist approach, however, not only focuses on limiting identity based activities but purposely limits funding to gender activities. This is allegedly done to avoid further fragmentations in the building of “social cohesion” but it has a clear securitarian approach as it aims to prevent the segregation of Muslim women and the perpetration of traditional Muslim norms. The potential of a more gender approached and multicultural structure of integration policies and discourse could be the key to solving the issue of the alleged incompatibility between Islam and human rights.
agency, integration, securitarian, policies, public policies, human rights, multilevel governance, women's rights, muslim women
Muslim Women's Agency in European Integration Policies from a Human Rights Perspective: the case of Brussels and Berlin / Ghanem, CRISTINA YASMIN. - (2020 Dec 10).
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/3426259
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