On September 23rd 2014, the University of Bristol hosted the event Inspiring Muslim Women, featuring reflections by three inspirational and pioneering women who have made major contributions to British public life: Baroness Sayeeda Warsi (House of Lords and former govt minister), Sughra Ahmed (President of the Islamic Society of Britain) and Fahma Mohamed (FGM activist and trustee of Integrate Bristol).
STEPHEN JONES ET AL: While it is true that many Muslim associations in Britain are led by men, there are plenty of examples of Muslim women’s leadership that are often overlooked. In 2008 New Labour seemed set on changing this, yet their efforts to include Muslim women in national and local governance ultimately failed.
KHADIJAH ELSHAYYAL: As an ambitious British-born generation of civically engaged Muslim women emerges, male-dominated groups seem outdated.
FAUZIA AHMAD: Getting married and staying married is one of the biggest contemporary issues facing Muslim diasporas, yet it is an issue that many mosques, Muslim organisations, secular legal and welfare services are failing to offer adequate support for. There is an urgent need for informed and inclusive debate.
SARIYA CHERUVALLIL-CONTRACTOR: Research with Muslim women challenges the stereotype of them as voiceless and economically marginalised. In Britain, Muslim women have engaged in a struggle against patriarchy and newer social ills such as Islamophobia. Rather than being seen as a ‘feminist’ struggle, this effort is understood as a ‘reclamation of faith’.
NAAZ RASHID: The Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) agenda included specific initiatives to empower Muslim women. Although ostensibly a response to genuine problems, Muslim women have been given a voice only as victims or survivors prepared to disclose their personal stories. Such initiatives as a result ultimately contribute to dehumanising stereotypes.
ANNA PIELA: Controversies over the niqab have erupted cyclically in Britain. Every time the portrayal of niqabis is the same: they are regarded as fanatics or Islamists. Why is it that, even when Muslim women state that they wear a face veil of their own volition their choice cannot be accepted?
KATHERINE E. BROWNE: When Prevent was first established it made the mistake of stereotypically portraying Muslim women as ‘naturally’ liberal and ideally placed to combat ‘masculine’ Islamic extremism. Under the Coalition this portrayal has disappeared, but now Muslim women are ignored, or only mentioned as passive victims of terrorism or community oppression.
A new report into the experience and impact of anti-Muslim hatred on British Muslim women, by Chris Allen, Arshad Isakjee and Ozlem Ogtem Young, has been released by the University of Birmingham. The report, based on interviews with 20 Muslim women and produced in association with Muslim hate crime monitor Tell MAMA, found that in 80 per cent of cases women are targeted because of wearing Muslim dress, a headscarf, niqab or full-face … Continued
HUMERA KHAN: There has been widespread neglect of grass-roots activism by Muslims, especially Muslim women, and often the capacity of Muslim communities to make their voice heard in government has been overestimated.