UK Muslim women to be trained for office

By Rob O’Brien

The UK Muslim Women’s Advisory Group has launched a new project to encourage more Muslim women to get involved in politics.

The ‘Play Your Part – Make Your Mark’ project will support women already involved in public life to progress further and encourage women who want to enter the public sphere.

"I am delighted to see this project getting off the ground, and I hope that as many Muslim women as possible will take advantage of the opportunity to increase their skills,” said Communities Secretary for the UK Government, Hazel Blears.

“Muslim women can be a powerful force and as local leaders are vitally important in making their communities stronger. But, we need to see more Muslim women getting involved in politics at all levels – from school governors and local councillor’s right through to the national level."

There are at least 800,000 Muslim women living in Britain today but they are under-represented in positions of influence in British civic society including roles such as school governors and local councillors.

Reedah Al-Saie, a member of the Muslim Women’s Advisory Group, said that Muslim women were under-represented in British civic life.

"Like other women, they have a wide variety of skills which are under-utilised; they multi-task, balance family, home, community and work needs on a regular basis,” she said.

“We aim to nurture the skills, talents and confidence of women on the programme and make progressive change by enhancing their networks within, and appointing mentors from mainstream civic and political life in order to ensure more MPs, councillors, magistrates, schools governors and public appointments are secured."

The Muslim Women’s Advisory Group said it planned to provide the support to increase the skills, knowledge, and confidence, of Muslim women to enable more to seek positions in civic society and public office.

The project will arrange a residential weekend at a leading UK university to develop networking and communication skills and giving the participants the opportunity to meet with a range of existing mentors and role models such as established magistrates, councillors, school governors and public appointment recruitment specialists.

Two further one-day programs will specialise in the finer skills of power and influence, including leadership and teamwork and adapting to new environments, with the second day focusing on public speaking skills such as negotiation and debating.

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