Earlier this month, the Parliament was visited by representatives of the Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre (MWRC) who were in to promote their ‘I Speak for Myself’ campaign.
The resource centre provide’s a range of services to support Muslim women to tackle isolation and to empower them to get involved in their local community.
The ‘I Speak for Myself’ campaign features hundreds of Scottish Muslim women giving personal messages that challenge common stereotypes.
The project was launched after an engagement process with local schools highlighted the negative connotations that the children associated with Islam and Muslim women. Words such as ‘terrorist’, ‘oppressed’, ‘uneducated’ and ‘foreign’ were commonly raised in the engagement process.
The messages from Muslim women as part of the campaign challenge these stereotypes. One woman talks about how it saddens her to hear that British soldiers are killed, another highlights that her Iranian roots do not make her a terrorist.
Other women highlight aspects of their lives that show the experiences they have in common with women from other backgrounds such as the importance of family or a love for the cinema.
Alongside direct services, the resource centre also works in partnership with mainstream agencies and policy makers, to enhance their understanding of the Muslim community and of barriers that prevent Muslim women from accessing services and participating in society.
This approach ties in well with the current debate about how we can empower communities to become more involved in decisions affecting their area.
The barriers facing many Muslim women as a result of negative stereotyping can prevent many from achieving their potential. Initiatives such as the Muslim Women’s Resource Centre help in two direct ways. Firstly, they challenge the false stereotypes which hang over Muslim women and secondly they engage with agencies who operate local services to ensure that consideration is taken of the specific needs of the Muslim community.
I was delighted to meet representatives of the resource centre and wish them every success as they tour their campaign across Scottish schools.