MPs set up all-party group on Muslim women

30th Oct 2020
MPs set up all-party group on Muslim women

Hamed Chapman

A new All Party Parliamentary Group on Muslim Women has been formally established and has appointed the national, award-winning charity Muslim Women’s Network UK, as its Secretariat.

“The purpose of the APPG on Muslim Women is to support social justice and equality for Muslim women by debating, scrutinising, investigating and raising awareness of issues affecting them,” said Co-Chair of MWNUK, Nazmin Akthar.
“The overall aim is to influence practice, policy, legislation and attitudes across all spheres, so as to be able to transform the lives of Muslim women in the UK for the better,” Akthar added.

MWNUK said it was especially pleased to be acting as Secretariat because it will allow it to take their existing activities to “new heights and allow us to have an even greater impact than what we have already achieved as the leading national charity working on issues affecting Muslim women and girls for over 17 years.”

Conservative MP, Caroline Nokes, also the current Chair of the Women’s Equality Committee will be one of the first Co-Chairs of the APPG along with Labour MP Naz Shah, currently Shadow Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government. They both believed that the APPG will act as a “powerful mechanism by which to ensure that the multiple lived realities of Muslim women and girls are given the attention they deserve; that they are listened to, not just spoken about.”

“Muslim women are one of the most marginalised groups in society suffering from multiple disadvantages including from within their own communities as a result of cultural practices, patriarchal attitudes and misinterpretations of their faith,” said Shah.

“The APPG will be a more effective way to influence Government decisions that impact on their lives and provide a more powerful way of making their case and help them to be heard.” Nokes said it was so important that the voices of Muslim women are heard and that as the Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, knew “how hard we have to work to make sure a cross section of people have the confidence to provide evidence to our inquiries.” “When we have heard the voices of Muslims we need to also ask if that included a female perspective, recognising that it may well be different,” the Tory MP added.

Secretariat support for the group will be provided by MWNUK through a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, which will also fund the APPG’s first inquiry which will be looking into Muslim women’s experience of maternity care.
Co-Chair of MWNUK, Shaista Gohir OBE, said the first Inquiry will be to “review Muslim women’s experience of maternity care so that lessons can be learned to mitigate existing inequalities.”

Black women are 4-5 times more likely to die during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period, while South Asian women are 2-3 times more likely to die in comparison to white women. “These disparities in maternity outcomes in England have been well known for a long time, which indicates the lack of effort made in trying to understand the maternity experiences of BAME women despite health and social care providers having a legal duty to reduce inequalities between patients in their access to health services and the outcomes achieved,”

Gohir said. Consultant Gynaecologist Eddie Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, Chief Midwife at NHS England, also spoke at the Inaugural Meeting, discussing the disparities within the healthcare system.

Any Muslim woman, who has given birth in England in the last five years, would like to contribute to the research by sharing her experience, should get in touch with MWNUK on: contact@mwnuk.co.uk.

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