Four women working within their particular traditions to stop using religion to suppress women and instead to see faith as a way to inspire and empower equality for women.
In one sense, Sara Hurwitz, Kate Kelly, Elizabeth Johnson, and Zainah Anwar have nothing in common. They’re members of totally different, mutually exclusive religions. They pray in different houses of worship. They study different holy books. And yet in another sense, they have everything in common. They are each attempting to inspire feminist change from within four religions that — to various extremes — pointedly seek to repress them, and to even be part of the establishments that encourage this repression.
Why bother? Why fight? If you’re an educated feminist who was born into such a religion, why not convert to another that doesn’t relegate women to a second-class status? For each of these women, the answer relates to not only her devotion to her own faith, but to her community. This is no small thing: By a rough estimation, there are nearly a billion and a half women on Earth who are Orthodox Jewish, Mormon, Catholic, or Muslim.
These four women aren’t the only ones fighting for change within their respective faiths, nor are their particular methods the only ones reformers in these faiths are employing. The revolution each is a part of, to outside eyes especially, is modest in practice, if not ambition. It’s about writing and presenting a report to the United Nations. It’s about leading a 200-woman protest on the steps of a church. It’s about graduating a class of three.