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Islam and Emerging Feminism: Topic of Fulbright Visiting Scholar Speech Oct. 2 at Simmons College

BOSTON (September 24, 2007) — A Fulbright Scholar from Bangladesh who is visiting Simmons College will discuss the Muslim faith and emerging feminism in Bangladesh — one of the largest moderate Islamic countries in the world — Oct. 2 at the college.

Shahnaz Huq-Hussain, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, says Bangladeshi women are quietly waging a revolution that is increasingly bringing them out of their homes and into the workforce and positions of power. She will deliver a lecture, "Faith and Feminism in Bangladesh," Oct. 2 at 4 p.m., in Room L-305 in Lefavour Hall, 300 The Fenway in Boston. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Huq-Hussain says poverty and expanded government-sponsored educational opportunities are driving Bangladeshi women not only to seek better lives — often working in the thriving ready-made garment industry — but also to change their status in the Southeast Asian country.  "People are no longer looking at women only for their reproductive role; society is looking at their economic and social roles too," she says.

Empowering mechanisms such as microcredit lending systems, championed by Nobel Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh, have been particularly effective at increasing women's rights in recent years, Huq-Hussain says. Education is challenging old interpretations of the Koran that limit women's authority in society, she says.

Huq-Hussain's speech is part of the Fulbright's Direct Access to the Muslim World program, which seeks to increase Americans' understanding of Islamic civilization and the history, politics, and culture of the modern Muslim world. Huq-Hussain will meet with students and faculty about related topics during her visit to Simmons College, which lasts until Oct. 5.

Simmons College has a pioneering undergraduate college for women; renowned graduate programs for women and men in social work, health studies, library and information science, and liberal arts; and the nation's only MBA program designed for women.  Due to construction, parking on Simmons's campus is limited. For alternatives, please visit the parking website.