Whilst we welcome the increased focus on the role of Muslim women in the UK, the statistics being reported by media outlets focussing on the lack of employment amongst Muslim women and the reasons given by witnesses and advisors highlighting the causes, we believe that discrimination and inequality has increased over the last six years and these trends are part of the wider problem around human rights and civil liberties, race and religious discrimination and an incessant pursuit of the Muslim community bordering on demonisation and otherness through the much maligned Prevent programme.
The report by the Women and Equalities Committee covers the whole gambit of Employment opportunities for Muslims in the UK however for some bizarre reason the media has focussed solely on Muslim women at the expense of other areas of the report. A report on either Muslim women and employment or Muslims and Employment generically would have been more helpful in order to focus our joint efforts.
We are hopeful that the change in party leadership will bring progress and a more conciliatory tone as well as genuine and meaningful engagement with the Muslim community as opposed to being talked at, being made to feel inferior and creating a wholly inappropriate environment for racism and Islamophobia to thrive in through the combative and hostile public statements made by Cabinet Members on the national and international stage exacerbating animosity, prejudice and hate.
On extremism, we urge the government to re-engage with the ‘mainstream’ Muslim community and begin a constructive dialogue of how we can work together to combat the scourge of violence, hatred, intolerance and terrorism. If the government is truly serious about valuing the contribution of the Muslim community and working with them to build a One Nation Britain, it is imperative it changes course from the current regime of securitisation, suspicion and policing of thought and opinions. There is a balance to be struck between vigilance and full scale monitoring.
Bana Gora, CEO of Muslim Women’s Council says “We have been advocating for wider roles and representation for Muslim women in the community as well as within Mosque structures. We are the only organisation in the UK that is calling for a radical change in Mosque management by building a flagship Women Led Mosque alongside a Centre of Excellence to promote female scholarship. If the government is serious about engaging with Muslim women and not the usual tokenistic groups such as the National Women’s Advisory Group or subsequent reincarnations of this, we urge Prime Minister May to put some serious funding behind this initiative in order to make inroads into the wider issues”.