A HUDDERSFIELD woman is a member of a new group aimed at strengthening the position of moderate Muslim women as part of the battle against the threat of Islamic extremism.
The Government’s Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears, has launched the National Muslim Women’s Advisory Group.
It will work to boost the participation of Muslim women in civic, economic and social life, as well as discussing their concerns.
Naheed Arshad-Mather, from Fartown, said that too often Muslim women were seen as a problem.
She said: “We need to be brought into the mainstream. We have multiple identities and some of us are doing very well.”
The 19-strong group has members from around the country.
They come from a range of professions and backgrounds and include lawyers, academics, and representatives from community groups.
The Government has said that the estimated 800,000 British Muslim women often have a unique moral authority at the heart of families to challenge extremism.
Group member Shahda Khan, 40, a community cohesion officer with Middlesbrough Council, said they were committed to making a difference.
She added: “There seems to be a commitment to really achieving something and making a difference rather than just talking about it.
“There is a wealth of experience in this group. It makes me immensely proud as a British Muslim to see so many women who are so skilled.”
Siddika Ahmed, 42, from Levenshulme, Manchester, another member of the group is the director of the PeaceMaker voluntary organisation in Oldham.
She said: “It is very important to get the views of women across so that they are actually heard.”
Ms Blears said too much attention was being paid to Muslim women’s appearance – in debates about headscarves and veils – and too little to their views.
She said: “We have to get better at listening to Muslim women, valuing their contribution to this country’s economic, cultural and civic life, and opening the door for more to get involved.”