Women's rights and religious liberty

Rowan Williams' recent lecture on the religious grounding of universal human rights raised difficult questions about the status of women in relation to freedom for faith.

Journalist Natalie Hanman has written an interesting article about this. She notes: '[Dr] Williams recognised the tension between religious faith and women's human rights: "Allowing for religious liberty and the duty to promote what a democratic society regards as desirable - there are going to be conflicts there, particularly in the gender equality area," he said. Yet he concluded by stating that there should be no question about a religious community denying its members those liberties that the state provides for. "That's axiomatic ... No amount of respect for any one society can simply cancel that duty of the state."

'Endless grey areas remain to be debated when it comes to human rights and religious faith. Let's hope that sex discrimination and gender inequality between women and men becomes one of those inadmissibilities of our time that both secular and religious groups are proud to stamp out.'

Full article: http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/natalie_hanman/2008/05/cross_purpose...

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