On the occasion of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60) Peace Islands Institute and Nittokai Turkey Japan Cultural Dialog Society organized a side-event entitled “Women’s Social Lives and Changing Values in the Middle East: Beyond the Framework of Religion, Culture, and Tradition” on 18 March 2016.
The moderator of the event was Dr. Turan Kayaoglu, who received his Ph.D in Political Science at the University of Washington. Dr. Kayaoglu`s research focuses on intersection of religion, human rights, and international relations theory. After his welcome speech, Dr. Kayaoglu mentioned that it is often assumed that in Middle Eastern societies, values related to religion, culture, and tradition are homogeneous, immutable, and have negative effects on women’s lives. Contrary to these stereotypical views, in the current globalizing world, in which changing values are inevitable, women’s social lives in Middle Eastern countries have also undergone dynamic transformations, which will be presented by the panelist.
The first speaker was Dr. Emi Goto who is an Associate Professor at the Institute for Advance Studies on Asia at the University of Tokyo. The focus of Dr. Goto`s presentation was on the changing values in the Middle East by mentioning the life and words of two Egyptian Islamic scholars. In her presentation, Dr. Goto shared the examples of how conservative views on women change overtime in Muslim societies.
The following speaker was Ms. Kaoru Murakami who is a researcher at Institute of Developing Economies in Japan. Ms. Murakami presented her paper on changing meaning of protecting women and reconfiguring sense of belonging. “Honor is not only about violence but also related to a sense of belonging. I wanted to demonstrate how women negotiate their sense of belonging under changing economic and social conditions. I hope we can gain a better understanding of violence in the name of honor“, Murakami finalized her speech.
The last speaker was Dr. Keiko Takaki who is a Professor of Cultural Anthropology at J.F. Oberlin University in Tokyo. Talking about the changing roles of women in Tunisian revolution and democratic transition based on concrete examples, Dr. Takaki mentioned that women’s contribution in governmental decision-making mechanisms was quite a new phenomena and very controversial in Tunisia. Dr. Takaki said that “Concerning the changes observed in Tunisian feminism before and after the revolution, we may conclude that these signify a drastic shift from the top-down regime-sponsored “State Feminism“ to the bottom of “Civil Feminism“ based on the women’s autonomous actions and grass-roots activities”.