Religiously framed approaches to women's rights advocacy, which include those that utilise religious discourses or work through religious leaders and institutions, have increasingly been adopted by a variety of actors, particularly in Muslim contexts. While the use of such approaches may often be an effective means of advocating for reform of laws on women's rights that are founded on principles deriving from religious jurisprudence, there remains a need for critical analysis of such engagements. This article examines the experiences of two Muslim women's rights networks in India, the Muslim Women's Rights Network and the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, both of which have attempted to work with religious institutions and through religious framings in order to secure women's matrimonial rights. This case study highlights both the possibilities and limitations of adopting religiously framed approaches and argues that the strategies of women's rights advocates must be grounded within political and social realities without being either essentialist or exclusionary.
IDS Bulletin (2011) 42 (1) 56-66 [DOI: 10.1111/j.1759-5436.2011.00201.x]