Towards a Global Sisterhood: The Transnational Activities of the Federation of Muslim Women's Association in Nigeria. New Dynamics of Religious Expansion in a Globalizing World
This chapter examines the transnational activities of the Federation of Muslim Women’s Organization in Nigeria (FOMWAN) during its twenty-five year history (1985-2010). As a starting point, FOMWAN’s local networks within Nigeria are considered significant as they shaped the movement’s national identity. Its various activities within Nigeria also indicate the main issues of public concern with which it engages. These include education of Muslim women; women’s health and HIV/AIDS; the place of women in democratic inauguration and consolidation; and the economic empowerment of women. The leading role of FOMWAN in urging and aiding the formation of similar federations of Muslim women in other West African countries such as Ghana, Liberia, Gambia, and Sierra-Leone constitutes the central focus of this study. This indicates, among other things, some of the dynamics of Islamic expansion in the contemporary period. Muslim women, as champions of Islam crossed national boundaries to interact and mobilize their sisters in these other countries. Are these activities aimed at enhancing the visibility of existing women groups or are they proselytising missions? Does FOMWAN have the support of the authorities of mainstream Nigerian Islam in this venture? What is the relationship of these other national federations with FOMWAN? This study interrogates issues of gender, religious expansion, networking and globalization and underscores the outreach strategies adopted by women despite the limitations of traditional and Islamic patriarchy. It also probes the significance of the global ideology to these groups as well as their contacts with other parts of the Islamic world. The idea is to unravel new methods and modes in the expansion of Islam on the African continent through a study of these women’s federations.