I Can Be She
I Can Be She is a pioneering project which seeks to empower Muslim women and change the ways in which society perceives them.
We want to:
1) Raise awareness about the inequalities faced by Muslim Women
2) Challenge popular misconceptions and prejudice about what it means to be a Muslim woman
3) Unlock the potential inside every Muslim woman, and enable them to become what they aspire to be
4) Empower Muslim women to demand change, and achieve it for themselves
Funded by the At Home in Europe project at the Open Society Foundation, the idea for this project has emerged from conversations with young Muslims who have specifically asked for related resources and sources of information.
Muslim women face a double discrimination on the basis of both their gender and their faith. According to available statistics, Muslim women in the UK face the highest inequalities in health and housing, and are almost four times as likely to be unemployed as Christian women. In addition, the portrayal of women and Islam in the media has distorted perceptions of Muslim women.
I Can Be She focuses on the practical everyday realities – it is about empowering young women and introducing them to a wide range of role models, amplifying the voices of women across a wide range of sectors, and celebrating their achievements.
- A campaign to capture the diverse stories of Muslim women in Britain today, capturing the spirit of everyday activists, visionaries and pioneers – their passions, their experiences, and the paths which led them to dedicate their lives to their causes
- Exhibitions – Our exhibition series brings together talented artists to further explore the stories of some of the women featured in ICBS through mixed media and visual arts. This arts and media component also provides a platform from which to explore the issues these women are passionate about, incorporating a shared dedication to women’s rights, empowerment and equality.
- Workshops – In the summer of 2011 Maslaha ran a series of art and media workshops with young Muslim women in East London in partnership with The Kiran Project, an organization with twenty years of experience of working with women and young people from communities across East London. These workshops trained participants in arts and media skills and empowered them to play a more active role in their community, resulting in fascinating films, radio broadcasts, photography and art based on the lives and perspective of these young women. The work produced from these workshops was shown in a local exhibition in October 2011.
Our website, ICanBeShe.org, acts as a platform from which to focus on educational outreach, partnerships with youth and leadership organisations, signposting services for women, and engaging with role models on a global level. The material and project itself are being developed in collaboration with young people, teachers, academics, and those working at a grassroots levels within communities.
Muslim Women in the UK
- Equality should be a lived reality for all. Yet Muslim women face a double discrimination on the basis of their gender and their faith.
- At GCSE level, the performance of Muslim girls as a group is better than the national average. But once they leave education, Muslim women are almost four time as likely to be unemployed as Christian women. 69% of Muslim women of working age are economically inactive.
- In employment, Pakistani women earn 28% less than White men, compared to 17% less for White women. The Department for Work and Pensions has estimated that between a quarter and a half of the ethnic minority employment gap is caused by employer discrimination.
- According to one poll, 57% of Muslim women say that they want to work. However, 64% say they need more practical support from the government in terms of access to childcare and language lessons to do so.
- Muslim women face the highest levels of inequality in health and housing in the UK. They report the highest rate of ill health among all faith and gender groups – 16%, compared to 8% of Christian women. A third of Muslim families live in overcrowded accommodation.
- The first three Muslim women MPs were elected at the 2010 general election.
Sources: National Equality Panel, An anatomy of economic inequality in the UK; Offices for National Statistics; Equality and Human Rights Commission, How fair is Britain? The First Triennial Review; Office for National Statistics
Follow our progress here!
'I Can Be She' is supported by the Open Society Foundation's At Home in Europe project.