YOUNG Muslim women came together to discuss their lives during a special programme of Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour live in Huddersfield.
Students, young professionals and members of the Asian community talked about their experiences of what it is like to be a young British Muslim woman living in 21st Century Britain.
Women’s Hour presenter Jane Garvey was joined by Baroness Warsi and author Saeem Ali, who escaped from an arranged marriage.
The audience was made up of more than 30 young Asian women, men and people of other faiths.
When Jane Garvey asked the audience how many considered themselves to be British, the majority raised their hands.
Huddersfield University politics student Zainum Akram, 21, was one of them.
She is a third generation Pakistani woman and says she is British.
She said: “I think it is important to discuss something that is of interest to a lot of young British Asian women - we have our own voice, identity and make our own choices.
“I think we live in quite a diluted society. I didn’t want to feel pulled between two cultures, I feel British because I was born here.
“Being Pakistani to me would mean I lived there, but I am from here and this is my identity.”
As well as discussing their views on integration, they also talked about the hijab many choose to wear.
Zainum added: “It was a personal decision for me not to wear a head scarf.
“I think at the end of the day it is a choice that people make based on who they are.
“It doesn’t make me any less of a Muslim person or less dedicated to my faith.”
It was presenter Jane Garvey’s first time in Huddersfield, but she said it was the perfect location for the discussion.
She said: “Britain is a very multi-cultural society and I think Huddersfield is a good place for a discussion on the diverse society we live in.
“It is important we talk about it and seeing so many people here shows it is a topic they want to discuss.”
Dewsbury-based Baroness Warsi said being British to her was natural: “People ask what is it to be British.
“I don’t think it is something we can write or show.
“For me it is not going about saying “I’m British” but it is a natural way of life.”
Also in the audience were learning mentors Barbara Cunningham and Sylvia Greaves from Moorend Technology College in Crosland Moor.
Barbara Cunningham said: “A high percentage of our students are Asian and I think it is important to understand what it is like for them living in Britain.
“Some may feel like they are caught between two cultures, so we have to help them overcome any barriers they face.”
The live radio programme was broadcast on Radio Four to around 800,000 listeners yesterday morning.