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Southeast Asia Experts Discuss Religious Change and Gender

Screen Shot of agenda 2nd International Research Conference.
Screen Shot of agenda 2nd International Research Conference.

Scholars, policymakers and other experts on Southeast Asia are meeting at Georgetown University, in Washington, Tuesday to discuss the prospects of religion and gender relations in the region.

The two-day conference, as part of 'Religion, Public Policy and Social Transformation in Southeast Asia' program, aims to promote more engagement and better policies to handle the region’s diversity. That includes looking at how religion in the region changed over time, through Islam, Buddhism and Christianity, and how that effects gender relations today.

Representatives from the US, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar will meet in panel discussions and take questions from the public, to understand “how religion can turn into a mobilizing force for social transformation or changes.”

Farina So, a prominent researcher in Islam and gender issue from Cambodia’s Sleuk Rith Institute, will take part in the discussions.

“In Cambodia, religion is a critical part of public institutions and of peace building,” she told VOA Khmer in an interview. “But religion has been misused by individuals and politicians in a way that creates conflict and religious war.”

She will discuss the roles of the Cambodian government to promote freedom of religion in Cambodia, where approximately 500,000 people are Muslim.

“I will be talking about how the Cambodian government can promote freedom of religion and emerging religious movements, in particular in the Muslim community, and how it affects gender relations in Cambodia,” she said.