We need coalitions respecting diversity

21 October 2005
Hi to all out there. I have been working around issues to do with Muslim women in particular. Though I cannot claim to represent this interest group, as it is as diverse and different as you might expect, with many perspectives -  I can talk about my own experience.
I feel that the contribution of women in the creation of stronger communities is essential. Women's work needs to be recognised as valuable, like the cement used to build structures. This work may not always be recognised: it may be done in the background. Often we see women as the backbone to voluntary contributions: but men may front the initiative.
Amongst the diversity of views, we have women who do wish to develop resistance using the parameters of their understanding of Islam, while others, who come from a very secular view point wish to do so from their own particular stance. One challenge I think about a great deal is how to build up a coalition which respects this diversity and values the strength of collaborative working to achieve good outcomes for all.
I think at this point, from where I am standing, that Muslim women and men are both facing a crossroads, not of their own making. But there is a focus on them which some may say is very negative and others may say is a good opportunity -  as it has opened up many different types of debate over such issues as integration, multiculturalism, etc.
Solutions need to be developed which encompass the experience and perpectives of all concerned. Solutions which are imposed will probably not be sustainable.
The Muslim Women Talk camapign grew from fact that there appeared to be only minor engagment with Muslim women after the London bombings in July. The good thing about this campaign was that it grew organically to ensure that the voice of Muslim women was clearly going to be heard at Westminster and different parts of the UK. What really hampers such work is the energy drain of the people involved, with meagre real resources behind them.

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