Sana Malik Noon

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Emory U.

Grant number

Gr. 10138

Approve Date

April 8, 2021

Project Title

Noon, Sana (Emory U.) "Intergenerational politics of women's rights activism in Pakistan"

This project interrogates practices and discourses of rights in two women’s rights organizations in urban Pakistan. Women’s Action Forum (WAF) was established in 1981, by elite, professional women advocating for women’s protection against discriminatory laws, during the first wave of “Islamization.” Girls at Dhabas (GaD) was formed in 2015, by a group of young, middle- and lower-income women lobbying for women’s safe access to public spaces, as a civic right. While WAF challenges the state through legal reforms, GaD utilizes social media to engender societal change. Attending to the differential practices of both organizations, this project asks: What are the causes and consequences of intergenerational changes and rifts in the women’s rights movement in Pakistan? Recent anthropological literature on women’s agency presents nuanced frameworks of Muslim women’s piety as an alternative to liberal, secular autonomy. This project explores a “third way” between the analytical binaries of secular/religious agency, by studying women who constantly innovate and strategize in response to changing circumstances imposed on them. Using semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and social media analysis, this project assesses the hypothesis that women’s agency, and broader shifts in women’s movements, can be understood through a close study of evolving organizational practices and discourses.