Laila is associated with the Muslim Women's League, a LA based organization. Her work has revolved around issues like women?s rights in Islam, reproductive health and sexuality, violence against women among others. An obstetrician-gynecologist, she also is the Director of Women's Health at the Northeast Valley Health Corporation in Southern California and a volunteer at the UMMA Community Clinic, the first Muslim free health clinic in the country.
Shamita Das Dasgupta is one of the founding members of Manavi, an organization many on the Sawnet discussion list might be familiar with. Manavi is the first organization of its kind that focuses on violence against South Asian immigrant women in US. Shamita is presently an Adjunct Professor at NYU Law School. She has written extensively on gender, ethnicity and immigration.
Mushim Ikeda-Nash is a community peace activist, and writer. She works on issues of diversity and multiculturalism. Mushim is a consulting editor to Turning Wheel: The Journal of Socially Engaged Buddhism, was a coeditor of Making the Invisible Visible: Healing Racism in Our Buddhist Communities, and she has served as chairperson of the San Francisco Zen Center Board Committee on Diversity and Multiculturalism.
Fascinating women and an equally fascinating subject.
The film does a great job of teasing out the different ways in which these three women understand the relationship of their activist work with their faiths. While Laila and Mushim were drawn to social activism because their religious beliefs provided them with an understanding of interconnectedness of human actions and of obligations to their community; Shamita became more interested in religion after she realized that working with battered women in her community required that she understand their beliefs and be able to provide them with reasons from within their own faith to stand up against abuse.
I do wish, though, that there was more space given to their, especially Laila's and Mushim's, public role. The film focuses too much on their religious beliefs and at times does not show how that informs these women's public personas. In fact, I felt the blurb that was provided at the screening gave more info about them as activists than the film itself.
But on the whole, an important contribution to the debate about religion and activism. It throws light on the motivations and values that inform these women's work and, in the process, complicates our understanding of the role of religion in public life and activist politics.
-- Ellora Puri
Film description: A documentary film that offers an intimate look at the lives and work of three American women -- one Buddhist, one Hindu, and one Muslim -- for whom faith, activism, and identity are deeply intertwined.