This is an archive of the Inspire Women CIC website. The CIC no longer exists but the Inspire website as seen here, provides a historical account of the ground-breaking work delivered by Inspire from 2008 to 2018.  Sara was a co-founder of Inspire, and a co-director during that time.
Events

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Muslim women came together today to make a united stand rejecting the barbarism of the Islamic State and urge all women across the country to take the lead combating extremism in their communities.

The women, from all over the UK, declared their abhorrence of extremism and terrorism and vowed to take the lead in stopping preachers of hate preying on British children, in a commitment to protect their communities.

Organised by Inspire, a counter-extremism and human rights organisation, the event encouraged Muslim women to unite as one voice against ISIS.

Home secretary Theresa May, speaking at the campaign launch, said: “It is an honour to stand alongside Muslim women who gathered together from across the UK today to challenge extremism and terrorism.

“Women can play a unique and powerful role in combating the extremist threat here and abroad, taking the lead in stopping preachers of hate from preying on young people.

“It is a job for us all to challenge hatred and extremism wherever we find it. I am honoured to support a campaign which asks Muslim women to make a stand and help to build stable and peaceful communities.”

Speaking at the launch, founder of Inspire Sara Khan said: “We are British Muslim women – proud of who we are – British and Muslim. We cherish the values of peace, democracy, citizenship, and human rights. As women we know our role in challenging extremism is essential.

So today, as part of our communities and within our own families we call on everyone to join us in making a stand and challenging extremists in our communities, on television, in our societies and online.

We call on all women to join us and say that we will not tolerate this barbaric ideology. We will not tolerate our children being groomed by these terrorists.

That’s why we’re all here today to launch our own ‘jihad against violence’.”

The launch of #MakingAStand comes in the wake of widespread reporting of atrocities committed by ISIS, and their most recent call for Muslims to commit murders in the streets of Western countries opposing the Islamic State.

Women looking to take part are being encouraged to do so by tweeting a picture of themselves to #MakingAStand. They can also register their interest and find out more by visiting website www.wewillinspire.com

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Women can help safeguard their communities and become a much needed voice in helping to work towards peace and in challenging the extremist threat. This training programme strove to make women realise their own agency and responsibility in countering extremism.

The course therefore aimed to:

1. Challenge extremist ideology and support mainstream voices by providing women with the necessary skills to address issues within their communities with confidence.

2. Build community resilience by enabling women to be more proactive members within community structures such as mosques, cultural centres and educational centres.

3. Support vulnerable individuals by educating women who have an important relationship with the individual concerned e.g. mother/sister

The course analysed the religious, political and ideological outlook of terrorist organisations from 7th century Khawarij, 11th-13th century Ismaili Assassins, upto modern day al-Qaida. The extremist narrative espoused by Bin Laden, al-Awlaki and others were dissected. The threat of the jihadist movement was examined and the possible vulnerabilities leading to radicalisation were discussed. The arguments used by Al Qaida such as militant jihad being compulsory on all Muslims and the world being divided either as dar al Islam/dar al harb (world of Islam/world of unbelief) was scrutinised. Discussions around citizenship, anti-Muslim prejudice, the impact of far right extremism, the wider notion of ummah and gender equality in Islam also took place.

Outcomes of the Women’s Safeguarding Awareness Programme:

1. Participants understanding of extremism increased substantially. The average increase for each participant on a scale of 0-10 went from 5.4 to 9.1.

2. As a result of the course, participants had a greater concern in tackling extremism. The average increase for each participant on a scale of 0-10 went 8.6 to 9.7.

3. The creation of a newly elected Wandsworth Muslim Women’s Network which will seek to empower women and challenge extremism was also established.

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Three 6 week courses, in November 2012, February and March 2013 were delivered in three different areas of Leeds including Beeston.  The course aimed to meet Objectives 1, 2 and 3 of the Government’s Prevent Strategy.  Objectives included challenging the extremist ideology, building community resilience and supporting vulnerable individuals by educating women who have an important relationship with the individual concerned.

Prior to the programme, the participants had little if any Islamic education and/or exposure to theological counter-narratives to extremist ideology.  In the absence or inability of Muslim institutions educating Muslim women, it is directly through Prevent engagement that women are now better informed and equipped to challenge extremist ideology.  Muslim women wanted to actively do more to reclaim their faith from violent extremists who they felt had hijacked Islam to commit acts of terror.  As one woman stated, “if I knew this information ten years ago when my children were teenagers, I would have taught them about the issues raised in this course.  This is the first time I’ve been educated on such a crucial and important topic.”

Participants felt overwhelmingly positive that the course helped equip them to support vulnerable individuals they could come across in their families and that the programme was useful overall.  They felt empowered to believe that as women they had a powerful and unique role to play in contributing to British society and in challenging those Muslims who had hijacked their faith.  Participants also developed a better understanding of the Leeds Channel initiative and formed a good relationship with them.

The course also gave the participants a platform to air their views and concerns about the daily gender inequality they experience in their communities and how such inequality has impacted negatively on almost all aspects of their life.  Ways of overcoming gender discrimination and misogyny were also discussed.

A 52 page report highlighting the key findings and outcomes of the course was completed by Inspire.

To view more photos click here.

For further information please get in touch with Inspire.

 

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The Inspire team were proud to assist in the ‘Spring into Harmony’ school’s tour with renowned recording artist Dawud Wharnsby, between 16 April – Friday 20 April 2012. The sessions were fully booked and Dawud delivered 24 presentations to overwhelmingly positive feedback from staff and students in Luton and London.

In the spirit of the Luton in Harmony campaign – the ‘Spring into Harmony’ schools tour aimed to instil self esteem within young people and to highlight the unique potential that each of them possess. It also aimed to highlight how diversity and difference is a strength particularly when working towards positive social goals. Throughout the presentations the importance of honesty and self expression were highlighted as tools for students to vent, build understanding and to use as a means to create positive social change.

Thirteen ‘Hi Neighbour Salaam Neighbour’ assemblies were delivered as well as eight workshops on ‘The Power of Song’. In all 21 sessions were delivered to 2638 students, which in Luton was representative of approx 20% of the primary school population. In addition Dawud gifted each school with a copy of his book and bonus CD ‘A Picnic of Poems.’

Luton’s diversity has long been one of its great strengths, the many cultural and community festivals and events such as the carnival, the Mela and annual peace walk, bring together people in a celebration of all that is good about Luton. This event complemented those initiatives and enhanced the sense of belonging and unique individual and collective strength and potential amongst Luton’s ethnically diverse students. The timing of the event was significant too as it played a part in countering the negative impact of the English Defence League who marched in Luton around that time too in April 2012.

Dawud Wharnsby’s unique method of engaging young people and adults with passion, humour and honesty through the mediums of vibrant music, evocative poetry and beautiful song had a truly positive impact on the individuals and schools that took part in Spring into Harmony 2012. Inspire in partnership with Dawud Wharnsby aim to deliver a similar tour between Monday 10 June –Friday 14 June 2013; to further build on themes around personal responsibility, self expression, the environment, sustainable living and other green issues such as inspiring students to reduce, recycle and re-use.
Teachers Comments
“The assembly was lovely. The children enjoyed it, they took part and found Dawud both funny and informative always a winning combination.”

“I would love to have Dawud back again. We needed more time to write together during the (workshop) session. It would be great to have a piece that the class could present and share with others in the year group.”

“A fantastic way to start our new term. The messages linked really well with our RE, PSHE and SEAL topics.”

“I had no expectations but the workshop was really very good.”

Link to wharnsby.wordpress.com/about-dawud-wharnsby/
The tour is being run again in June 2013.  For further information please get in touch.

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In the 21st century there are many challenges facing British Muslim women. Politics, culture and religion are tools being used to define and regulate women and to place narrow and restrictive roles on them. Amongst British Muslim communities it is no different. Whilst many Muslim women are contributing to British society, many more are denied fundamental freedoms simply because of their gender. Unfortunately some of those who deny women their rights claim to do so in God’s Name.

This conference aimed to raise the level of discourse around the issues facing Muslim women. Leading activists, scholars and academics from across the world were joined by male and female participants from various professions and backgrounds to begin to bridge the gulf between scholarly thinking and the reality of women’s day to day lives.

Speaking in God’s Name and the launch of the Jihad Against Violence UK at the conference gained widespread international media coverage and captured the imagination of bloggers across the globe; highlighting the dire necessity within society for a genuine and critical debate and examination of the texts.

This conference was crucial in order to help women fulfil their potential in life. Without being equipped with sound knowledge, women will not have the confidence to challenge the dominant conservative views that place restrictions on every stage of their lives and act as barriers to their full development.

As we know real and lasting cultural change cannot happen without men and women working in partnership with one another and respecting each other fully as human beings and equals. The conference therefore sought to include men fully, so that communities are able to rise together to the challenges of the day.

Inspire are proud to have brought powerful legitimate voices to the fore and given them the opportunity to share their expertise and knowledge. We are pleased to share those voices with you here.

Inspire would like to thank the Somuw Centre and the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs.
Videos:

SPEECHES:

INTERVIEWS:

 

Photographs:

To view all photographs visit our Facebook page.


Event Brochure:

WWI_GENDERINISLAM21

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‘It’s All About You,’ a Muslim Women’s Empowerment Course organised by Inspire in partnership with Portsmouth City Council, was delivered at the Lamport Community Centre, Portsmouth on Thursday 3 March 2011. Thirty local women, mainly of Bengali origin attended the programme.

There can be no doubt about the gravity of issues facing Muslim women today.  The common image of a Muslim woman is indeed of a person who has few rights, is oppressed and has little opportunity to participate in society.  The sad reality is that many Muslim women today are underachieving in all walks of life.  Culture and narrow theological interpretations have been used to oppress women here and around the world and whilst Muslim women have been encouraged to fulfil private roles, their contribution to public life and leadership is well below their potential.

Yet the faith of Islam articulates a visionary message where women are encouraged to play their part and to contribute fully to society.  Therefore it is possible for Muslim women to be at the forefront of tackling problems and challenging common stereotypes.  They could help promote a bright, new and positive image in 21st Century Britain.

Muslim women are increasingly recognising that they have a significant contribution to make that is essential for the harmony of communities they live in.  They know the time for being passive and indifferent is over and they know the time for rising to the challenge is now.  This course was designed for local women to come together and to leave feeling motivated and inspired to play their part and to work for the good of all our communities.

Sara Khan examined the many challenges facing Muslim women today. Tahmina Saleem shared her insights and stories around role models, past and present and the inspirations we can draw from their contributions in all walks of life. Local lady Ashraf Sultana told of her inspiring journey of emigration from Bangladesh and how she had gone on to master English and to become a health worker in Portsmouth. Aftab Malik delivered ‘a short history of extremism’ that mapped the unfolding story of the anomaly of extreme behaviour gripping parts of the world today. He also explored how Qur’anic verses may be misrepresented and misunderstood when taken out of context. Workshops ended the day where ladies explored and discussed issues in more depth.

Attending a course is useful but nothing can be more empowering than actually using the knowledge gained to contribute to communities and society.  This in a nutshell is what this course hoped to achieve; to inspire those who attended to acknowledge their own unique potential and to use it to make the most of their opportunities. Sara ended with encouragement to all those present to make the most of the time they have and to live a fulfilled life.

Photographs:

For more picture please visit our faceboook page here.

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Inspire partnered with Hounslow Council on March 6, 2010 to deliver a conference in the local civic centre for 150 men and women interested in gender equality and human rights. The conference aimed to promote local good practice as part of Hounslow Council’s Beacon status as well as empowering and activating Muslim women to meet head on the many challenges they face.

The one day conference encouraged women to contribute to local and global communities, to help address Muslim women’s contemporary concerns through a progressive understanding of faith and to promote concepts of active citizenship and shared values. In particular participants were motivated to help confront the many challenges we face from growing poverty to a global escalation in violence, human rights abuses and climate change. The conference emphasised the need to stand up and to be counted to ensure a more optimistic future for coming generations. The event gave a confident, positive and dynamic vision for Muslim women in 2010 – for those wanting to transform lives and transform societies.

Speakers included Gill Hicks; M.A.D. for Peace, Sara Silvestri; City University London, Usama Hasan; Middlesex University, Daisy Khan; the ASMA Society and Sara Khan; Inspire, the event was enhanced by beautiful live performances by Helen Andrews and Dawud Wharnsby from the arts collective Enter Into Peace.

Photographs:

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Inspire organised and delivered a successful training course for women in Watford.  The participants came from a variety of backgrounds, professions and ages.  The course covered a multitude of contemporary issues and concerns facing Muslim women today in the 21st Century whilst encouraging them to explore the role they would need to play to improve the town they live in.  The course then led to the setting up of the Watford Muslim Women’s Network which would provide a voice for local Muslim women and would work towards establishing communication with key organisations and stakeholders.

Organised by Inspire, in conjunction with Watford Borough Council

 

Comments:

  • “Really tapped into the imagination.  Very thought provoking and beneficial. Something almost every Muslim woman needs to experience.”
  • “A very educational and motivational experience. Helped set targets to work towards, thanks.”
  • “A very valuable training opportunity for Muslim women”

If you live in Watford and would be interested in learning how you could get involved please contact Sofia Zaheer on 07969 911 230 or visit www.equilibriumwomen.org.

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With over 300 participants, the conference explored the empowerment of Muslim women and encouraged them to become activists and community leaders in order to have their voices heard. This conference looked at the evolving role of Muslim women within their own communities and also more widely in society and how they can aid the understanding and prevention of all forms of extremism. One of the aims was also to highlight the pioneering contribution of Muslim women throughout history and to provide an assessment of where Muslim women are today in 21st Century Britain and what Muslim women are capable of becoming in order to contribute dynamically to their communities and country.

Organised by Inspire, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police

 

Speeches:
Photographs:

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The course looked at theological discourse surrounding Muslim women in Islam and to dispel commonly held stereotypes and myths about the role of Muslim women. It also provided an advanced leadership training course to the standard course provided earlier in December 2007.

Organised by Inspire, in conjunction with the London Borough of Hounslow

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

EVENTS