The Holy Exclusion: Religious Belief or Gender Bias? Strategies for the Embodiment of Gender Equality among Different Religions in Contemporary India


  • Juhi Gupta Advanced Centre for Women's Studies, Aligarh Muslim University, English House, Tar Bungalow, 202002 Aligarh, India



religion, equality, india, feminism, gender, women


Aim Religion in India continues to remain a male-bastion with men occupying positions of leadership in religious institutions and wielding inordinate control. Against this backdrop, this research analyses the recent emergence of women claiming their space in religion, with specific focus on decision making powers, accessibility to religious careers, and rights and entitlements to religious finances and accruements.

Methods The review made use of extensive and in-depth analysis off secondary sources of research and informative materials available, specifically on the subject matters of religion, women and modern feminist campaigns. Major sources utilized were newspapers articles, journal articles, scholarly research on related topics and court hearings and judgments of relevant cases.

Results The analysis reveals that there is clear progress by feminist movements in challenging inequality in religion, by demanding equal access to places of worship and questioning religious practices that exclude them. Women are calling out male leadership where they have abused their power under the guise of faith. Feminist movements are also demanding women’s participation in the financial endowments that accrues to religion. Women are also making determined entry into careers related to religion. The growing number of institutions that provide religious training to women are not only enabling women to take up priestly and other religious roles, but also equipping them to question patriarchal interpretation of scriptures.

Conclusion While the rising feminist movement towards obtaining equality within religion becomes quite apparent, one of the contributing factors could be the consistency of the judiciary in upholding the constitutional rights granted to women. Specifically, the Supreme Court, with its judgements and progressive interpretations of religious laws, has aided the women in their struggle. Since the questioning of patriarchal control of religious structures is happening almost parallelly across all major religions in India, it can also be theorised that there is a rising feministic consciousness that underpins the quest for religious equality and equal treatment.


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Author Biography

  • Juhi Gupta, Advanced Centre for Women's Studies, Aligarh Muslim University, English House, Tar Bungalow, 202002 Aligarh, India

    Assistant Professor at the Advanced Centre for Women's Studies, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. She is an Honorary Fellow at Edward Cadbury Centre for Public Understanding of Religion, University of Birmingham, UK. 

    She completed her PhD. from Jamia Millia Islamia on the influence of Fatwas and feminist consciousness among Muslim Women. Her areas of specialization are issues of Gender, Women and other Marginalized communities. She has organised a number of workshops, seminars and other programmes on Women’s issues, Gender Sensitization and Feminist Research Methodology. She has served as a resident warden in Abdullah Hall, AMU, a member of the Internal Complaints Committee (Committee Against Sexual Harassment and for Gender Sensitization), National Assessment and Accreditation Council’s (NACC) facilitation team and the MHRD’s Gender Champion Scheme, AMU.

    She is on the editorial board of the journal of the CWS, AMU 'Women and Society’. She has publications in national and international journals and authored a book titled The Future of Indian Muslim Women: Fatwa Vs Feminism(2012), co-authored a reference book for UGC NTA NET Exam in Women’s Studies (2019) and co-edited books titled ‘Muslim Woman: What Everyone Needs to Know (2019), Women of Marginalised Community: Concerns about Exclusion (2020) and Oxford of the East: Aligarh Muslim University (2020).



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How to Cite

Gupta, J. (2022). The Holy Exclusion: Religious Belief or Gender Bias? Strategies for the Embodiment of Gender Equality among Different Religions in Contemporary India. Journal of Education Culture and Society, 13(2), 137-152.