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Macquarie Law School

Amira Aftab

Amira Aftab


BA (Hons)/LLB (Macq)


Amira Aftab is a PhD Candidate at Macquarie Law School. She completed her Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and Bachelor of Laws at Macquarie University. The focus of her honours research was sovereignty and the European Union, exploring the notion of "pooling sovereignty". Her current research interests include: human rights, legal pluralism, religion and the law, the politics of multiculturalism, and gender in institutions.



"Gender Equality and the Freedom to Practise Religion: Sharia Law in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom" (Working Title)


My thesis explores how and why Sharia law is seemingly accommodated in some Western liberal democracies but not in others. In terms of gender, the Sharia debate is often framed within the 'multiculturalism versus feminism' discussion; with State law often positioned within this debate as the "best" alternative for gender justice, as it is considered "neutral". However, this fails to account for the reality that institutions, such as the law, are gendered. By adopting a Feminist Institutionalist (FI) approach, my research aims to move beyond the liberal rights framework that is typically used to discuss women and Sharia in the West. By doing so, we are better able to understand the institutional nuances that shape the experience with Sharia within countries such as Australia, Canada and the UK. While FI is a relatively new methodological approach, and has most commonly been employed in discussions of the executive and parliaments of Western liberal democracies, it can be useful in exploring other issues (such as the Sharia debate), which are inherently shaped and affected by the institutional landscape.


  • Principal: Dr Kate Gleeson
  • Associate: A/Prof Archana Parashar

Selected Publications and Presentations

  • 'Islamophobia and Muslim Women in the UK', paper presented at The Australian Political Studies Association Conference, University of New South Wales, 26-28 September 2016.
  • 'The Rise of Sharia in "the West": A Feminist Institutionalist Analysis of Sharia Law in Australia, Canada and the UK', paper presented at 2016 Law and Society Association Annual Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana USA, 2-5 June 2016.
  • 'What's Law Got To Do With It': The Potential for Interdisciplinary Feminist Institutionalist Analyses in Political Science' (2015) The Australian Political Studies Association Conference.
  • 'New Institutionalism and Sharia Law in the West', paper presented at Academic International Conference on Interdisciplinary Legal Studies, University of Cambridge, 13-15 July 2015.
  • 'Gender Equality and the Freedom to Practise Religion: Sharia Law in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom' paper presented at International Conference on Gender and "the Law": Limits, Contestations and Beyond, Gediz University Turkey, 4-6 June 2014.