Women's Rights, Really?

Women of Faith's (Kobiety Wiary) first public event, themed:

Women’s rights, really?

Tackling multiple discrimination of Muslim women, inequality and abuse - speaking out against Islamophobia

Saturday, 28 January 2017, 4:00-6:30pm, Maryam Centre, East London Mosque

All women and men should have access to their rights and equal opportunities and be free from abuse. However, a violation of fundamental rights of women directly impacts their opportunities to find employment or undertake further education in order to fit into society. The agenda for gender equality has been long standing but many of its gains exclude some groups of women such as Muslim women.

With the rise of Islamophobia, Muslim women have become a direct target of verbal and physical abuse and hate crime. This form of discrimination should be distinguished from the mainstream as a combined gender-religion based violence which is observed not only in the UK but all over the world. In addition, alongside gender and religion, recent reports also include ethnicity as a form of discrimination and in the economy refer to this multiple discrimination of Muslim women as “triple penalty". Muslim women face systematic and structural barriers in employment and education. These limitations are reflected in the UK Census data which demonstrates that Muslim women are one of the least economically active citizens.

In the UK national context, where gender equality is heavily advocated by the civil society, the treatment of Muslim women in public remains questionable. The elimination of double standards in gender terminology and efforts to combat gender injustice require further action. This seminar will discuss a dichotomy in gender-religion based discrimination and will provide a space to acknowledge the facts, concerns and recommendations to effectively and inclusively respond to the violation of UK Muslim women’s rights. This seminar is a deserved platform for a public debate necessary to be true to gender equality agenda and to emphasize further barriers which hinder achievement of this equality by women who wish to demonstrate their faith in their daily lives.


15:30 Registration

16:00-16:10 Welcome and introduction by Hanifah I. Was, Vice-Chair of Women of Faith & Project Coordinator

16:10-16:45 Panel debate moderated by Iman S. Pertek, Chair of Women of Faith and EFOMW's Board Member

Panelists (10-12 min each):

  • Alaa Al-Samarrai, Assistant Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain, tbc. 
  • Dr Konrad Pędziwiatr, Cracow University of Economics – European Islamophobia and its impact on Polish converts in the UK and in Poland.
  • Faeeza Vaid,  Executive Director, Muslim Women’s Network UK – Challenging negative stereotypes of Muslim women in order to combat discrimination faced
  • Imam Fadel Soliman - Bridges Foundation - Women’s Rights between culture and religion - how cultures affects women in society
  • Shenaz Bunglawala, Head of Research, MEND – Islamophobia and its disproportionate impact on Muslim women, reporting methods and preventive measures      
  • Sufia Alam, East London Mosque and Maryam Centre - The  nature and consequences of Islamophobia on Muslim women’s well being        

16:45-17:10 Maghrib prayer/break

17:10-17:40  Panel debate continued

17:40- 18:10 Questions and Answers

18:10-18:25  Summary of recommendations

18:25-18:30 Closure

Concept Note of the Seminar


“Islamophobia is an increasing factor of gender inequality, there is a need to increase this recognition and apply more preventive measures to achieve gender justice for all women regardless of their religious affiliation, because all women deserve a life free from discrimination and violence.” Women of Faith’s statement

Women have struggled for generations to have equal rights in public and private spheres and to date much has been achieved. However, when in the 21st century UK a woman can be sent home for refusing to wear high heel shoes, one becomes aware that we are still not equal and that the struggle continues. Women, regardless of their religion, often study and work harder than men yet their achievements are not equally acknowledged or recognised by the communities. A woman showing her religious identity, regardless of how many degrees she has and where she is from, has often limited economic opportunities because of the constraints such as intolerance, hatred or misjudgment of her image.

For a Muslim woman, especially the one wearing the headscarf, there is an additional barrier, not only she struggles against common gender bias but also by displaying her faith, she becomes a subject to the disgraceful acts of Islamophobia. In other words, on top of being discriminated against because of her gender, she is also being discriminated based on her religion. This double discrimination is her day-to-day reality, regardless of her profession or there lack off. She is an easy target of hate crime, hate speech and suffers from the effects of multiple discrimination.

The issue of gender-based violence (GBV) based on religious grounds, manifested for instance in the form of Islamophobia, needs more public attention, since it seriously endangers the progress made in achieving gender equality and advancing women’s rights. For example, the recent ban of the burkini swimwear in France will limit Muslim women’s opportunities to practice swimming and leisure on the beach. The increasing acts of violence against women demonstrating their religious identity, committed by both women and men – hate crime and hate speech, violates the fundamental rights and basic freedoms.

At present, the lack of attention on this combined type of GBV and discrimination leaves women of faith marginalised and discriminated. If one is serious about achieving gender equality, the discrimination that women of faith experience in daily lives hindering their achievement of equality, deserves a public debate.

Objectives of the Seminar:

The main objectives of the session are:

  • Discuss the inter-sectionality of gender discrimination based on religion and gender equality in different sectors, including employment (also address so called “triple penalty”)

  • Demonstrate evidence that intolerance and hatred towards Islam (Islamophobia) is an obstacle to gender equality, limiting opportunities of women demonstrating their religious identity

  • Increase awareness of multiple discrimination of Muslim women, who are disproportionately affected by acts of hatred and intolerance

  • Raise awareness what are the measures in place to report the incidents of Islamophobia and up to date action against it

  • Acknowledge the incidents of gender based violence against women wearing the headscarves (GBV due to religion)

  • Create space for open debate about the growing issue of disproportionate impact of Islamophobia on Muslim women, their opportunities and rights

  • Promote multi-stakeholder cooperation in the elimination of GBV based on religion

  • Propose recommendations to tackle GBV based on religious grounds

Methodology of the Event:

The seminar will be interactive and consultative. After 10-15 min presentations by the panellists, the open debate will follow in order to work out specific findings for wider public and recommendations to the academia, activists, faith organisations and government. The session of questions and answers will allow any remaining concerns to be addressed by the speakers and guests. The event will be opened by the project coordinator, Hanifah Isabela Was (Vice-Chair of Women of Faith) of and the panel will be moderated by Iman Sandra Pertek, Chair of Women of Faith & Board Member of EFOMW. A rapporteur, selected for this event, will provide feedback and observations to the event outcomes.


The following partners will be collaborating in hosting the seminar:

  • European Forum of Muslim Women

  • Women of Faith (Kobiety Wiary)

  • Open Society Foundation

  • MEND

  • Cordoba Foundation


The seminar is open to the representatives of the public institutions, Universities including the academia and students, NGOs including women’s organisations, communities and faith organisations, including mosques, community centres of various backgrounds and different communities at large. We expect around 50 – 70 participants.

Date and Venue:

Date: 28 January 2017

Time: 16:00-18:30, 120 min, including 20 min break

Venue: East London Mosque and Maryam Centre, London

For further information please contact: info@kobietywiary.org


  • Photo exhibition on Islamophobia by MEND will be available on site of the event
  • ENAR’s report “Forgotten Women: the impact of Islamophobia on Muslim women” will be disseminated
  • "Far Right in Europe" Guide by Cordoba Foundation will be distributed to all participants free of charge 

About organisers:

Women of Faith (Kobiety Wiary) is a grassroots women’s organisation founded in 2010. Its mission is to unite and support women interested in Islam. Amongst its objectives, is to empower Muslim women to drive changes in their communities by promoting their rights through access to information, active participation and promoting inter-religious dialogue.

European Forum of Muslim Women is a human rights organisation. It was founded in 2006, following a series coordination meetings between European Muslim Women associations active in several European Countries.  EFOMW works for the consolidation of bonds and the exchange of experience between its various members in order to support the empowerment and emancipation of Muslim women within society as fully fledged citizens. It also aims at addressing Muslim women's concerns and fight for their rights at the European and International level.  

The seminar is part of the EFOMW’s project:        


Register for the event now

Seminar's documents:
Concept Note-Women's Rights-Really.pdf Concept Note-Women's Rights-Really.pdf
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Agenda-Women's Rights-Really.pdf Agenda-Women's Rights-Really.pdf
Size : 881.885 Kb
Type : pdf
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Recommended readings:
EmploymentOpportunitiesForMuslimsUK.pdf EmploymentOpportunitiesForMuslimsUK.pdf
Size : 1126.747 Kb
Type : pdf
Forgotten Women - Factsheet-UK_lr.pdf Forgotten Women - Factsheet-UK_lr.pdf
Size : 830.888 Kb
Type : pdf
Confronting-Inequality-LSE.pdf Confronting-Inequality-LSE.pdf
Size : 1946.741 Kb
Type : pdf
MCBCensusReport_2015.pdf MCBCensusReport_2015.pdf
Size : 3039.592 Kb
Type : pdf

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