LAHORE - Heinrich Boll Stiftung (HBS) and Shirkat Gah Womens Resource Centre held an International conference titled Women, Religion and Politics in connection with 100 years celebrations of Womens Day at a local hotel here on Thursday. The two-day conference is the last in a series of events exploring the gendered dimensions of various religious and political paradigms and their impacts on womens lives in Pakistan and across the world. On first day, a number of international scholars including Yesim Arat from Turkey, Magdalena Mosiewicz from Poland, Dr Hema Goonatilake from Sri Lanka, Homa Hoodfar from Iran, Professor Deirdre Good from USA and Roshan Dhunjibhoy from Germany participated in the conference and presented their papers on the challenges facing by the women in relation to religion and politics. Speakers from Pakistan include former special assistant to the prime minister on social sector Shahnaz Wazir Ali, MNA Bushra Gohar, Heinrich Boll Stiftung Country Director, Britta Petersen, Shirkat Gah CEO Khawar Mumtaz, Shirkat Gah Research Director Farida Shaheed, Sheen Farrukh, Sahar Gul, Ayesha Tammy Haq, Neelam Hussain, Dr Rubina Saigol, Nabiha Meher Sheikh, Dr Ayesha Siddiqa, Nishat Kazmi, Justice (Retd) Metha Kailash Nath Koli, Dr Anita Mir and Naeem Shakir. Britta Petersen welcomed the participants on behalf of HBS and Khawar Mumtaz provided the background of International Womens Day, highlighting its political significance. Anne Jenichen presented the findings of a UNRISD study, focusing on the functions religion assumes in different national and cultural contexts, their implications for women and the role of democracy in helping women defend their rights against conservative interpretations of religion. Farida Shaheed delivered the key note address exploring the challenges posed to gender equality by the contemporary privileging of particular religious institutions and notions of religion in state and society across the world. She was of the view that the use of states institutions and resources in combination with religious ideology promotes an insidious changing of mindsets towards a more conservative view of gender altogether as motherhood and the domestic sphere. She explored in detail the parameters of the relationship between religion and state power.