Hundreds of people have attended an event in Manchester to champion the cause of Muslim women in politics and the media.
The event was organised by MEND’s Manchester team and was held as part of this year’s International Women’s Day. It featured political heavyweights such as Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and Naz Shah MP, as well as the renowned journalist Lauren Booth.
Naz Shah shared details of her personal experiences and struggles and the life skills she acquired which helped her to catapult into the political limelight when she snatched away the Bradford West seat from George Galloway in 2015.
She told the audience how she became involved in politics to “clean it up” and wanted to write her “own narrative.” She encouraged attendees to support a determined effort to highlight and root out Islamophobia and misogyny, and to play a part in politics so that the Muslim community could “own our own solutions.”
She spoke passionately about having arrived at the fifth stage of leadership, the “If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it my way” stage in reference to her controversial decision to resign from Government after its handling of the Gaza crisis in 2014.
Her parting comments were to male attendees, asking them to support and empower their partners in their journeys to make a difference and aspire to positions of leadership. “It takes a great man to lead, but an even greater man to support a leader, even if she is a woman,” she said.
The sobering topic of Islamaphobia was at the core of the evening and MEND reminded the audience of the shocking state of affairs in the last 12 months. The audience was also reminded of MEND’s grassroots campaigns to change the media narrative and “turn back the tidal wave of hate.”
Finally, Lauren Booth took the attendees through the various stages of her career and her early days canvassing support for her brother-in-law, Tony Blair, and the Labour party.
She described being a “girl about town” at the Evening Standard but she eventually realised how she wanted to be involved in “things afoot that actually mattered” which would change the world.
She encouraged all to find their voice, to put it to good use and said that Muslim women should have the confidence to step forth in media careers, saying that they can be whatever they want, producers, actors or journalists.