In a recent statement in honour of International Women’s Day, Mend, an organisation championing Muslim engagement and development, discusses the importance of remembering the challenges that women still face in contemporary society, and especially those faced by women from minority groups.
It says, “while all women suffer from structural discrimination, the challenges facing certain groups of women are frequently exacerbated by issues of class, race, ethnicity and religion. Within these groups, Muslim women are of particular concern”.
It references the House of Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee’s 2016 finding that “discrimination and Islamophobia, stereotyping, pressure from traditional families, a lack of tailored advice around higher education choices, and insufficient role models across education and employment” create barriers for Muslim women.
This is illustrated by the fact that, even when they have the same educational level and language skills, Muslim women are 71% more likely than white Christian women to be unemployed, and that 65% of economically inactive Muslims are women. In addition, a quarter of employers admit to being reluctant to hire Muslim women “due to concerns that they will put family commitments and caring duties above their professional duties”.
Many women are also put off from applying for certain jobs because of their fear of being discriminated against.
Mend also cites the government’s recent ‘Race Disparity Audit’, which shows that Pakistani and Bangladeshi women of working age are the least likely to be employed and the most likely to be economically inactive.
Thus, “women’s social and economic inequalities remain an urgent and critical issue requiring concerted effort and immediate redress”, which special attention being paid to women from minority groups who face gendered, ethno-racial, and religious discrimination. Mend notes that, “In particular, focus must be given to ways to engage these women within politics and media, and facilitating easier access to education and employment, whilst addressing the root causes of discrimination themselves”.
Mend. (2018) ‘International Women’s Day reminds us of triple penalty against Muslim women’. [online] 8 March. https://mend.org.uk/news/international-womens-day-reminds-us-triple-penalty-muslim-women/. [Accessed 20 March 2018].