The inspiring voices of Muslim women

Over the past few decades the UK has seen major demographic, social and cultural changes and Muslims have emerged at the heart of countless critical debates and analysis with particular reference to mainland and global security; cohesion, participation and integration, marriage, immigration, and also educational and economic disadvantage. Many of these debates have continued to homogenize Muslim men and women, and failed to represent the rich diversity of opinion within Islam and between people. It is necessary, in a society where over the years particular voices have been silenced, that we hear authentic experiences that talk to us with genuine openness and critical reflection.

As a Muslim woman myself, and as the editor of Our Stories Our Lives, published by the Policy Press in July, I have always believed in the power of stories in reaching out to people’s hearts and minds and the importance of capturing history as it unfolds. Across the UK I have witnessed a number of changes. I see a number of Muslim women who have achieved positions of influence – in local government, business, further and higher education, charities and other organizations; women who care about the society in which they live and bring up their children; women who increasingly find a voice together to promote values and who work together to make things happen.

There’s a considerable way to go in harnessing the potential that lies at the heart of this change and there is a need to acknowledge that there also continues to be a disproportionate lack of reflection on women’s achievements and experiences. But there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Muslim women are paving the way forward in new, dynamic, challenging and creative ways.

Our stories, our lives featured in the Bradford Telegraph & Argus on Tuesday 6 October 2009.

Wahida Shaffi

Coordinator for the OurLives Muslim Women’s Digital Media Project and editor of Our stories, our lives.

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