Our advocacy work involves channeling views of Muslim women and girls to decision makers such as government and other public bodies. We do this in the following ways:
  • By responding to government and public body consultations, which involves collecting views from our members and submitting a report that includes concerns and recommendations
  • Holding workshops and collecting views that are then included in a report which is then shared with decision makers
  • Attending government and other public round table meetings with Ministers, government and public body officials
COVID-19 Impact on People with Protected Characteristics
Women's Equalities Committee 
Written Evidence
April 2020

Muslim Women's Network UK responded to the Women's Equalities Committee on its inquiry investigating the impact of COVID-19 on people with protected characteristics.

Within our Evidence we highlighted the range of issues that are being faced by Muslim and ethnic minority women in particular. They are at increased risk of abuse and unable to seek help due to the lockdown. As the lowest paid, they are suffering significant financial detriment. And as carers and key workers their physical and mental health is at great risk.
We have also highlighted the serious strain being put on the specialist BAME services which assist vulnerable individuals, including victims of abuse. We have made a number of recommendations for change and will continue to engage with the government and ask for the necessary support for Muslim and BAME women.

Our response can be found here.
COVID-19: Domestic Abuse and Risks of Harm Within the Home
Home Affairs 
Written Evidence
April 2020

Muslim Women's Network UK (MWNUK) responded to Home Affair's Committee Inquiry into the Home Office's preparation for and response to Covid-19 (Domestic abuse and risks of harm within the home).

There has been a very real increase in abuse and risks of harm since the 'stay at home' guidance has been issued, specifically because restrictions have been placed on victims and potential victims being able to safely seek support and advice or even take preparatory steps to escape without alerting their abuser to their plans.

MWNUK responded to this consultation and highlighted that there is a clear need for more support to be provided to frontline organisations, particularly specialist BAME support services, to ensure that necessary, specialist support can continue to be provided to victims and potential victims of abuse. Faith and culturally sensitive counselling in particular needs to be prioritised. There is an urgent need for more temporary and permanent accommodation to be made available for victims facing abuse, and their children. It is also vital that decision making by the government first takes into account the lived realities of victims of abuse and takes steps to reduce financial dependency and destitution. Awareness raising campaigns are also necessary so that victims and potential victims (and their parents), particularly those in Muslim and other ethnic minority communities, are informed of the risks surrounding online grooming, so-called revenge pornography and sexual exploitation. This is especially important given that a lot more children and young adults will be spending time online. 

Our response can be found here.
Victim Code
Ministry of Justice
September 2019

The Ministry of Justice opened a consultation on the Victim's Code to find out views on their proposals to strengthen it. 

Muslim Women's Network UK (MWNUK) responded to the consultation and our responses were mostly based on our research findings from the report 'Muslim Women's Experience of the Criminal Justice System,' by Shaista Gohir. The CJS report highlights the issues and barriers faced by Muslim women when attempting to obtain justice, and the failings on the part of the criminal justice system. The combination of the issues, as highlighted in our CJS report, are in our opinion disempowering victims and doing the opposite of what a world-renown criminal justice system (and its institutions) should be achieving and upholding. 

MWNUK responded to the consultation with the following points:
We stress the need to strengthen communication with victims not just from the point of charge but from the point of initial contact, highlighted the importance of taking cultural factors into account and listening to victims when assessing 'impact' or 'risk' and asked that support be made available for victims of unrestricted patients. We have also urged that specific focus be given to reforming revenge porn laws and victim right to review provisions, which we feel are causing serious unfairness and disempowering victims.

Our response can be found here 
Commission on Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood
Fawcett Society
Oral Evidence
July 2019

The Fawcett Society's expert Commission on Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood is gathering evidence from parents and carers of children, teachers and professionals who work with children, academics and policy professionals with research expertise in gender or childhood, and members of the public who want to share their own experiences of gender stereotyping in childhood.

Our Chair Nazmin Akthar attended the first evidence gathering session, which was on the theme of child raising and the importance of parents'/carers? roles in challenging stereotypes in order to stop limiting children's life choices, goals and perceptions of their own abilities. Nazmin gave oral evidence about how stereotypes are perpetuated in different ways in different communities, including toxic attitudes such as the emphasis on having sons over daughters and the prevalence of colourism, and the effects that these obsessions have on children both now and for the rest of their lives.

This session was also attended by David Lammy MP, Professor Becky Francis (Director of UCL-Institute of Education), and representatives from the campaign Let Toys Be Toys and the National Childbirth Trust.
Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
72nd Session Committee
Oral Evidence
Feb 2019

The CEDAW is the international human rights treaty that focuses specifically on equality between women and men in all areas of life. It is often referred to as the ?women?s bill of rights?. The UK ratified CEDAW in 1986. Every five years government compliance with the CEDAW is assessed. Charities and NGOs, including MWNUK, travelled to Geneva in February to participate in this United Nations review of the UK?s record on women rights. 

Our Chair Nazmin Akthar attended to address the CEDAW experts on issues faced by BAME women (including minority women of faith and those with insecure immigration status) who continue to face intersection discrimination, violence and abuse. One particular issue raised by MWNUK was the need to make the Divorce (Religious Marriages) Act 2002 applicable to Muslims so that Muslim women could be empowered to leave marriages which had broken down, without having to rely on sharia councils.
Preventing & Tackling Forced Marriage
Home Office 
January 2019

The government wants to increase reporting of forced marriage, deter potential perpetrators and improve protections for victims and therefore the Home Office is exploring two options:
  1. The possibility of introducing a new legal duty requiring professionals to report cases (e.g. those who report a forced marriage, where it is suspected or those who may be at risk) in the hope that more cases being identified will mean more cases are investigated, resulting in increase in the number of perpetrators prosecuted for this crime. 
  2. Updating the guidance it published in 2014.
Muslim Women's Network UK responded to the consultation with the following points:
  • For under 18s, due to safeguarding reasons, forced marriage cases should be automatically reported. However, from our experience on the helpline, we believe that mandatory reporting of over 18s will deter them from asking for help. We believe it is important to ensure victims are able to seek help and professionals only report to the police if they consent. 
  • We also support Pauline Latham MP private bill on raising the age of marriage from 16 to 18 in the UK, which will also help reduce risk of forced marriage.
Our response can be found here.
Divorce Reforms
Ministry of Justice
January 2019

MWNUK sent a letter to the Ministry of Justice in light of the divorce reforms consultation, urging the Ministry of Justice to make the legislative changes that we have proposed; particularly making civil marriages compulsory before religious marriages can take place and amending the Divorce (Religious Marriages) Act 2002 so that a judge can also withhold finalising the civil divorce until a Muslim woman receives her religious divorce from the husband (as the current law only applies to Jewish women).

Our response can be found here.
Ethnic Pay Reporting
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy 
January 2019

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Race Disparity Unit launched an inquiry on ethnicity pay reporting by employers in October 2018. Muslim Women?s Network UK responded, some of our comments were as follows:
  • We highlighted the benefits of reporting on ethnic pay information can be placed under two broad categories: financial and social e.g. fairer pay will help with social mobility etc. Reporting will allow employers to also identify and remove any barriers to progression of their existing employees.
  • We also highlighted that the consultation itself recognises only five broad categories of ethnic groups which means ethnic minority groups are being combined so the variations in outcomes within those groupings will not be accounted for e.g. disparity between Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian employees.
Our response can be found here.
How to Recruit Women for the 21st Century
APPG on Women and Work
November 2018

The Women and Work All Party Parliamentary Group announced their 2018 theme of ?How to Recruit Women for the 21st Century,? and consulted on how to improve outcomes. MWNUK responded to this inquiry, some of our comments included:
  • Muslim/BAME women will face the same barriers as other women, however, they also face the triple disadvantage of being a woman, a BAME woman and a Muslim woman
  • Direct and indirect discrimination towards Muslim and BAME women continues to be under-reported and under-documented
  • We feel that as well as taking steps to change workplace cultures, we should also focus on role-modelling and capacity building initiatives to encourage Muslim/BAME women and to challenge stereotypes.
Our response can be found here.
Relationships and Sex Education
Department of Education 
November 2018

The Department of Education sought views on the draft regulations, statutory guidance, and regulatory impact assessment relating to Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education. Muslim Women?s Network UK responded to the consultation. Some key of our concerns/recommendations are:

  • There seems to be a denial by those who oppose this type of education about the lived realities of young British Muslims (and British Asians more broadly). 
  • Parents of particular backgrounds are unlikely to discuss topics relating to healthy relationships, consent, choice, STDs etc. This therefore makes RE/RSE/HE that much more crucial for children to protect them from harm and abuse. 
  • We are concerned that by teaching pupils to respect those in authority in all circumstances, they may be essentially taught to comply with their abusers. 
Our response can be found here.
Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper
Department of Housing, Communities & Local Government
June 2018

Government Department of Housing, Communities & Local Government published the ?Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper,? which set out a programme of actions on addressing integration challenges. 

We responded to the consultation via an online questionnaire on 5th June 2018. However, we have summarised our responses in the report that can be downloaded here

Some of our key points / recommendations included:
  • Challenging the government?s definition of integration and questioned why it is only putting the onus on minority communities to take action to integrate
  • Highlighted the role that successive governments have played in making integration harder due to their austerity policies and measures
  • Focusing efforts to strengthen leadership on women as they are often the forces of change in communities 
  • More funding to support niche services to support women to access their rights
Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse
Ministry of Justice
May 2018

The Ministry of Justice wanted to find out how best to support all of those affected the devasting consequences of domestic abuse.  Their consultation sought views on what steps the government should take to raise awareness, support victims, and ensure perpetrators are stopped.

We took into consideration experiences of those who contact our national Muslim Women?s Network Helpline and responded to the consultation via an online questionnaire. 

Some of our key recommendations included:
  • Including spiritual abuse as part of the domestic abuse / coercive control definition
  • Not limiting financial support for domestic abuse victims who have arrived in the UK on a spousal visa but extending criteria to all victims of domestic abuse who have an insecure immigration status
  • Funding for specialist services such as helplines and counselling services catering to the needs of BAME women
Our response can be found here.
Organ Donation
Department of Health and Social Care
March 2018

To save more lives, the government plans to change organ donation laws in England, so that everyone will be a donor unless they explicitly register an objection and opt out. As this new rule will affect every Muslim woman as well, we felt it was important we ensure that the views of Muslim women were also heard on how this new rule should be implemented. Muslim women are also likely to also play a key role in decisions taken after family member passes away. To help with our response we consulted 25 Muslim women who were in their 20s, 30s and 40s. 

An overview of their responses can be found here.
National Commission Into Women Facing Domestic and/or Sexual Violence and Multiple Disadvantage
AVA and Agenda?s National Commission
Written Evidence
February 2018

AVA (Against Violence and Abuse) and Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk, have established a new National Commission to take evidence on the issues experienced by women who have faced domestic and/or sexual violence and who have also faced multiple disadvantage (particularly problematic substance use and mental ill health). 

MWNUK responded to this consultation and highlighted the experiences of Muslim women especially providing evidence from the helpline.

Our response can be found here.
Inquiry into 'Pop Up' Brothels
APPG on Prostitution
December 2017

In October 2017, the APPG on Prostitution launched an inquiry into the spread of so-called ?pop-up? brothels ? a practice which involves residential properties and holiday lets being rented for a limited time and used as brothels. The investigation had been prompted by growing reports of organised crime groups establishing ?pop-up? brothels to sexually exploit women.

MWNUK responded to the inquiry and pointed out that pop up brothels were not limited to residential properties and holiday lets. We also included cases studies and evidence from our research report, Unheard Voices - Sexual Exploitation of Asian Girls and Young Women. LINK

Our response can be found here.
Disqualification Criteria for Councillors
Department For Communities And Local Government
December 2017

In September 2017, DCLG launched a consultation paper setting out the government?s proposals for updating the criteria disqualifying individuals from being elected, or holding office, as a local authority member or directly elected mayor.

MWNUK?s response questioned why the focus of the consultation had been placed only on sexual offences and anti-social behaviour and had not included other criminal and civil orders that an individual may be subject to such as forced marriage protection orders, female genital mutilation protection orders, and harassment injunctions under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. We urged DCLG to expand the current criteria to take these into account and pursue a zero tolerance approach to all forms of violence against women and children. 

We also provided an example of where MWNUK had formally lodged a complaint against a councillor due to his denial that domestic violence and forced marriage exists in Muslim communities and no action was taken by the political party.

Our full response can be found here.
Returning to Work After Caring
Government Equalities Office
October 2017 

The Government Equalities Office launched a consultation on August 2017 to find out about the experiences of people who want to return to work and the barriers that they face and the support available to them. They also wanted to hear from employers during the consultation.

MWNUK responded and highlighted the barriers which hinder Muslim and BME women from returning to work after taking time out caring, which included childcare issues and the financial viability. We also highlighted the need for training and more flexible working hours.

Our response can be found here.
Citizenship and Civic Engagement
House of Lords Select Committee
Oral Evidence
October 2017

MWNUK trustee Dr. Khursheed Wadia gave evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement in its session on Women and Integration on 25th October 2017. The Select Committee looked at how discrimination against women can affect integration.

To this effect Khursheed highlighted the main barriers for Muslim women which include discrimination/Islamophobia and cultural and patriarchal views of women. She also discussed the idea of fundamental British Values, stating that as a concept and practice it doesn't include themes which relate to and have meaning for women from BME and Muslim communities - such as, gender equality, anti-discrimination and so on. There is also an assumption of superiority of these values and such a presentation of British values feeds into the idea of integration as one-way process imposed top-down. It is necessary to ask what the population believes are British values and not ignore concepts of equality.
So Called 'Honour Based Violence'
Home Office
Roundatable Discussion
March 2017

A meeting was held on 15th March 2017 with a group of women's rights activists and Sarah Newton MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability.  Nusrat Ghani MP and Naz Shah MP were also present.  Shaista Gohir, represented MWNUK at the meeting. Women's rights activists rejected Nusrat Ghani MP's proposed bill to ban the term 'honour based violence,' highlighting that it took many years to have term recognised and that it would undermine years of work and cause confusion.  The women also raised concerns that the government was trying to make links between FGM and honour based violence with the extremism agenda and this should not be done.
Challegning Charging Forced Marriage Victims Repatriation Fees
Foreign Office
Private Letter
December 2016

A forced marriage victim called the MWN Helpline to complain the she was being charged repatriation fees by the Foreign Office for rescuing her from a forced marriage in Pakistan.  The victim was 17 years old at the time of having to sign a loan agreement so she could return to the safety of the UK.  The victim now 19 was on benefits and unable to repay the loan.  MWNUK wrote to the FCO requesting a policy change not to charge forced marriage victims for their repatriation given they are victims of crime and should not be treated the same as holidaymakers who may need assistance abroad who could insure themselves. MWNUK also questioned the legality of those who are under age being expected to sign loan agreements. The FCO agreed to review their policy and met with MWNUK in March 2017. At the meeting the FCO agreed to abolish repatriation fees for those under the age of 18.

Shariah Councils Inquiry
APPG Home Affairs Select Committee
Evidence Giving to MPs
November 2016

The Home Affairs Committee is launching an inquiry into Sharia
councils operating in the UK. The Committee will examine how
Sharia councils operate in practice, their work resolving family and divorce disputes and their relationship with the British legal system.  The evidence session was held at Portcullis House, Westminster on 1 November 2016.  Chair, Shaista Gohir and MWNUK member Zlakha Ahmed (CEO of Apna Haq) gave evidence. Shaista put forward a recommendation that the MPs also hold a private session with Muslim women who have used the services of Shariah Councils who have had good experiences and bad experiences to ensure they take balanced evidence.  This was agreed to and in December 2016 a separate closed session was held and MWNUK provided women who had direct experiences of using Shariah Councils.

An unprecedented  letter was also produced, signed by over 100 Muslim women who wanted the government to strengthen civil law and also want Shariah Councils held accountable but did not want them to be shut down.  This letter can be found here:

The written submission to the inquiry can be found here.
Government Independent review into Shariah Councils / Law
Home Office
Evidence Giving to Panel of Experts
August 2016

On the 10th August the panel of experts investigating the application of Shariah law and Shariah Council practices visited the MWNUK offices to gather evidence from staff and the Chair.  The experts included: Professor Mona Siddiqui, Anne Marie Hutchinson OBE QC, retired high court judge Sir Mark Hedley, and family law barrister Sam Momtaz. The panel was advised by 2 religious and theological experts, Imam Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi and Imam Qari Asim; they also attended. 

The experts launched their report in February 2018 and the problems and recommendations were identical to those in our report, Information and Guidance on Muslim Marriage and Divorce in Britain, that we submitted to the inquiry. We therefore welcome the findings of the report.

Tackling Hate Crimes following Brexit
Roundtable Discussion
July 2016

On the 8th July 2016, MWNUK ED Faeeza Vaid attended a roundatable discussion meeting hosted by Baroness Williams (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for DCLG) in Manchester. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the levels of community tension since the EU Referendum result, the government responses, and community responses. The meeting was also attended by others working on anti-Muslim/Semitic hate, racism, and Christian faith leaders.

Commission on Islam, Participation & Public Life
Citizens UK
Oral Evidence Session
April 2016

The commission, chaired by Dominic Grieve QC MP, brought together 20 Commissioners drawn from a wide cross section of British society to consider how the Muslim community could better engage and participate in public life. The Commission toured the UK and hold hearings in a number of towns and cities. Our Executive Director Faeeza Vaid attended the evidence gathering meeting held in Birmingham on the 23 April 2016 and gave the perspective of MWNUK.
Employment opportunities for Muslims in the UK inquiry
APPG Women and Equalities Committee
Oral Evidence Session
April 2016

The Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee held an Inquiry looking into barriers to employment that exist for Muslims considering Muslims face some of the lowest employment rates and lowest rates of pay of any group. They are also underrepresented in managerial and professional roles. This inquiry also considered at the prevalence of discrimination against Muslims in the workplace.  As well as responding to the inquiry via a written report, Vice Chair Nazmin Akthar also gave oral evidence to the inquiry committee on 19th April 2016. 

In addition to reinforcing the key points made in our report, she also highlighted the harm caused my misinformation by people like Trevor Phillips and his survey on Muslim communities that was featured in a Channel 4 documentary, the need to also educate communities and challenge attitudes held about Muslim women working with men and also the barriers faced by Muslim women internally within their communities e.g. by mosques.
Employment opportunities for Muslims in the UK inquiry
APPG Women and Equalities Committee
February 2016

Muslims face some of the lowest employment rates and lowest rates of pay of any group. They are also underrepresented in managerial and professional roles. This inquiry will consider what barriers to employment exist for Muslims. It will also look at the prevalence of discrimination against Muslims in the workplace. Our response focused more on the experiences of Muslim women and considered multiple as well as  direct and indirect discrimination they face and the lack of legal advice.

The response can be downloaded here.
Community Engagement Forum
(10 Downing Street)
Roundtable Discussion
January 2016

On the 14th January MWNUK ED Faeeza Vaid attended the Community Engagement roundtable meeting hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron. The purpose of the meeting was to inform government thinking on empowerment of Muslim women including barriers they face such as isolation and their role in tackling extremism and radicalisation. The meeting was also attended by other Muslim women from different organisations and professions.
Out of School Education Settings
(Department of Education)
January 2016

On the 26th November 2015, the Government Department of Education launched a consultation about introducing a new system for registering and inspecting out-of-school education settings that provide intensive tuition, training or instruction to children.The deadline for the response was 11th January 2016. Although this can apply to a range of settings, our response focussed on settings that teach Quran / religion within Muslim communities.  Despite a few concerns, which we have highlighted, in general we were in agreement with the proposed measures. The government has a duty to safeguard and protect all children and not just those who are in schools and colleges. Children receiving tuition in other settings outside school have been over looked for too long.  The absence of checks and balances of such settings poses safeguarding risks. 

The full report can be downloaded here.
Statutory Multi-Agency Guidance on Female Genital Mutilation
(Home Office)
September 2015

On 30th September 2015, Muslim Women's Network UK (MWNUK) responded to the Home Office's Consultation on the Statutory Multi-Agency Guidance on Female Genital Mutilation.  We felt the draft statutory guidance generally provides frontline professionals with the information required on the prevalence of FGM. However, we raised concerns that included highlighting that preventing FGM from taking place appearing to be the only aim of the statutory guidance; mental health issues were not considered. Also the focus was on increasing reporting for prosecutions than assisting victims and survivors of FGM.

The response can be found here.
Gendered Online Abuse
(Government Equalities Office)
Roundtable Discussion
August 2015

On the  21st August  MWNUK Chair Shaista Gohir attended a government roundtable meeting to discuss  gendered online abuse  to inform government future strategic direction. It was hosted by the Government Equalities Office.  Some of the other attendees included representatives from the Revenge Porn Helpline, Women's Aid, LGBT consortium, Safer Internet Centre, National Stalking Helpline, Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre and EVAW. Suggestions put forward by MWNUK included heavier sentencing for revenge porn offences that put women and girls at risk of honour based abuse, better use of harassment notices by police for online abuse, and making available online courses for women and girls on online / privacy / safety protection.
Learning Disabilities, Autism and Mental Health Conditions
(Department for Health)
May 2015

The DoH consulted on assessment and treatment in hospitals and adult care and support for people with learning disability and autism and other mental health conditions. MWNUK responded to the consultation and highlighted particular hurdles and barriers faced by those affected within the Muslim and BME communities that need to be considered and addressed by the Department of Health when considering key changes to care.

Our response can be found here
Anti Muslim Attitudes
(EU Fundamental Rights Agency)
May 2015

The Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA)is an EU body tasked with "collecting and analysing data on fundamental rights with reference to access to justice; victims of crime; information society; Roma integration; judicial co-operation; rights of the child; discrimination; immigration and integration of migrants; and racism and xenophobia.  They open a consultation to seek views on the rise of anti Muslim and anti semitic attitudes and crimes.  MWNUK responded highlighting the impact of the rise in Islamophobia.

The response can be found here.

CSE Summit at 10 Downing Street
(Prime Minister)
March 2015

Shaista Gohir,Chair of MWNUK attended the summit on child sexual exploitation hosted by the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street on 3rd March. Cabinet Ministers from different government departments e.g. Ministry of Justice, Home Office, Local Government & Communities and Education facilitated discussion on what else could be done to tackle this abhorrent crime.  A key theme that emerged was everyone whether those in positions of leadership or frontline professionals needed to be more professionally curious and ask questions and not just wait for the victim to disclose abuse. MWNUK was the only BME third sector organisation at the summit.
Women: Media, Sexism and Online Abuse
(Government Equalities Office - DCMS)
Consultation Event

14th January 2015

We held an event in partnership with the Government Equalities Office, which formed a part of the government's Women's Engagement Programme and was one of a series of regional consultation events with women across the UK. The event focused on the media, sexism and online abuse of women and Jo Swinson MP, the Minister for Women and Equalities spoke at the event and heard about women's concerns directly. Presentations covered the following issues:

- Portrayal of women and sexism in the media
- Portrayal of Muslim women and stereotyping in the media
- Online abuse targeted at women
- Police protection available for women facing online abuse

Photographs from the event may be viewedhere.
A short video is availablehere.
Mandatory Reporting of Female Genital Mutilation
(Home Office)
January 2015

On the 12th January, MWNUK submitted a response to the Home Office Consultation on introducing Mandatory Reporting of Female Genital Mutilation Whilst we appreciated in principle the need for mandatory reporting we felt there were serious issues with the proposal, which appeared to be focusing only on facilitating prosecution and did not account for individual needs. We have in turn put forward suggestions of an alternative model where next steps are decided on a case by case basis after review and consideration of best interests of potential victims and survivors kept at the heart of decisions.

Our Response will be available online here.
Reporting Police Discrimination
(Independent Police Complaints Commission)
Focus Group
10th December 2014

The Independent Police Complaints Commission
(IPCC) commissioned us to facilitate adiscussion on Muslim women's experiences of dealing with the Police. Discussions also included barriers to complaining, suggestions on what can be done to get more women to complain, and suggestions on what women expect if/when they do complain. We submitted our findings to the IPCC outlining the experiences shared. This was reviewed by the IPCC to help develop new guidance that is meaningful and workable and which will lead to improvements in how both the IPCC and the police handle allegations of discrimination.

A Level / GCSE Reform of Religious Studies
(Govt Dept of Education)
December 2014

The Department of Education ran a consultation on the revised subject content for GCSE and A level religious studies for first teaching from 2016. MWNUK submitted a letter asking that it is ensured students are not taught patriarchal notions that are at play and are given the ability to critically analyse sources and practices using principles of equality, equity and justice as tools.
Pre-CSW National Consultation
November 2014

On the 10 November 2014 Executive Director Faeeza Vaid spoke on a panel discussion hosted by the Government Equalities Office, as part of their pre-CSW National Consultation with women. In 1995, at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women, 189 governments including the UK pledged their commitment to improve the lives of women and girls by signing the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. As we approach the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration, the Government Equalities Office wanted to hear what progress is being made by the government to improve the lives of women and girls in the UK. And what future priorities the government should focus on. Fellow panelists included Minister for Women Jo Swinson MP..
Discrimination based on Religion or Belief
(Equality and Human Rights Commission)
October 2014

MWNUK responded to the Equality and Human Rights Commission's Call for Evidence on how the religion or belief of individuals and organisations may have affected their experiences in the workplace or when accessing services. MWNUK also commented on the effectiveness of the current legislation- the Equality Act 2010.

The response may be downloaded here.
Strengthening the Law on Domestic Abuse
(Home Office)
October 2014

MWNUK responded to the Home Office consultation on 'Strengthening the Law on Domestic Abuse'. We stressed that the law in itself is only sufficient when front line professionals are able to properly utilise the laws and legal measures available and for this there needs to be an unequivocal commitment to training and development. We also welcomed the idea of introducing a specific domestic abuse law but urged that this should be done with proper consultation and consideration so as to ensure the laws are fit for purpose.

MWNUK's response to this consultation can be downloaded here.
Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the Family Environment
Office of the Children's Commissioner
(2 year Inquiry)

The Office of the Children's Commissioner (OCC) has launched a two year inquiry into the Child Sexual Abuse in the Family Environment (CSAFE).
The aim if the inquiry is to find out about the scale, scope, nature and impact of child sex abuse.  The inquiry will also be looking into how agencies are dealing with cases of child sexual abuse. Findings will be used to better prevent , identify, protect and support children. The Deputy Children?s Commissioner, Sue Berelowitz , is chairing the CSAFE National Inquiry.  She is being supported by a national panel, which includes representation from MWNUK (Chair Shaista Gohir).

FGM Consultation to inform Policing
(College of Policing)
September 2014

The College of Policing carried out a consultation to inform their Authorised Professional Practice (APP) on the subject of female genital mutilation (FGM). The purpose of the consultation was to :

- Check their understanding of the subject-matter
- Ensure the content, format and tone are appropriate
- Draw on the knowledge, skills and experience of others to enrich the product and ensure we identify good practice based on the best available evidence
- Raise awareness among the wider community, FGM-affected communities and key opinion-formers of the learning material being made available to the police and general public.
 MWNUK's response to this consultation can be downloaded here.
Female Genital Mutilation Consultation
(Consultation by Prime Minister)
August 2014

The Prime Minister launched a consultation seeking views on whether the introduction of a specific civil law measure could help protect potential victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). FGM has been a specific criminal offence since 1985 but there have so far been no convictions.  The consultation examined whether a specific civil law measure, similar to the Forced Marriage Protection Orders (FMPO) model, could prevent FGM and help protect women and girls at risk. MWNUK responded to this consultation.  We do not believe a specific civil law measure for FGM would in itself undermine the efforts that are being made to secure prosecutions. Rather, with adequate procedures and usage it is likely to assist in securing criminal prosecutions particularly if procedures are pursued such as issuing Notices which can be used as evidence, or allowing breach of an order to be considered a criminal offence. We therefore agree in principle that a specific civil law measure for FGM would be a positive step.

The full response can be downloaded here.
Guidelines for Prosecuting Domestic Violence Cases
(Crown Prosecution Service)
July 2014

The Crown Prosecution Service consulted on  Draft Guidelines for the Prosecution of Domestic Violence Cases.  These guidelines provide assistance to decision makers and professionals during prosecutions of domestic violence.  MWNUK responded  to this consultation so that needs of Muslim women are considered in new guidelines.  We highlighted a number of issues that included: women whose  immigration  status is settled but are subjected to violence being particularly vulnerable and even being re-victimised by those who should be helping them; men whose immigration status has not been settled or subject their spouses to violence including pressuring them not to report until it is settled;  victim being abused  by several members of the family;  mental health  issues due to abuse; witnesses within family; sensitivity around prosecuting barristers being friendly with defence barristers; spirit possession etc.

Our full response can be found  here
Meeting with the Minister for Women
Roundtable Discussion
July 2014

On 2nd July 2014, MWNUK Chair Shaista Gohir was invited to a meeting with the new  Minister for Women Nicky Morgan.  Other attending the meeting included campaigners from  Fawcett, Feminista, Object, EVAW  and  Ms Understood. Issues discussed included: abuse women campaigners are subjected to; need to influence the Department of Education on issues related to girls and women; gender budgeting; sexual harassment in schools; and Ministers limiting vocal public support to particular topic affecting minorities (e.g. forced marriage, FGM) or issues affecting women abroad (e.g. sexual violence in conflict and FGM).  Those attending raised concerns that Ministers are not equally as vocal on sexual violence and domestic violence, although Teresa May was commended for her initiatives in the Home Office.
Muslim Marriage Group
(Ministry of Justice)

MWNUK are a member of the Muslim Marriage Group. Meetings are held at theMinistry of Justice every few months and attended by a MWNUK representative (board or staff). Discussions include the importance of civil registration of marriages in ensuring access to rights should a marriage breakdown and whether registering of mosques and individuals would assist more registrations.
NSPCC Natonal Muslim Advisory Group on Safeguarding Children

MWNUK are members of the NSPCC National Muslim Advisory Group and the meetings are attended by either board or staff to find ways to improve safeguarding of Muslim children. Many different issues are discussed including abuse of disabled children and abuse in Madrassahs.
Developing Social Care Guidlelines for FGM
(National Institute for Clinical Excellence - NICE)
Roundtable Meeting

October 2014

Participated in roundtable discussion to inform potential NICE public health clinical and social care guidelines for FGM and to identify priority areas.
Barriers to Complaining About Public Services
(Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman)
Focus Groups
June 2014

The Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsmen (PHSO) commissioned us to find out why very low numbers of Muslim women complain about public services, bodies and departments.  Three focus groups were held in Birmingham, Manchester and London .  We explored the barriers which included: not being aware of the complaint process, fear of not being taken seriously and challenging authority, language barriers, feeling it will not make a difference, lack of confidence, accepting the bad service due to culture (e.g. acceptance and suffering in silence), the process taking too long etc.  One of the participants in Manchester Saira Mirza interviewed another two participants on the Awaaz Community Radio Station about their views.  You can hear the discussionhere.  PHSO has used the findings to launch a national awareness raising campaign and produce a range of materials including posters and leaflets in different languages.

To find out more and request materials please visit the PHSO website.

Religious Leaders Unite Against FGM
(Home Office)
Roundtable Meeting
June 2014

On 18th June 2014, the Home Office organised a meeting to discuss the role of faith leaders and institutions in tackling FGM which was hosted by a number of Minsters including Norman Baker, Minister for Crime Prevention .  MWNUK Coordinator and Chaplain Shahin Ashraf attended the event.  Religious and community leaders have also signed a historic declaration condemning female genital mutilation. MWNUK is also a signatory and this was highlighted in a Guardian article here.

Letter to Attorney General
(Ministry of Justice)
March 2014

On the 20th March MWNUK wrote an open letter to the Attorney General requesting that the sentence given to Suleman Maknojioa, the Quran teacher from Blackburn who abused a young girl be reviewed. Mainstream media covered the story too, and MWNUK are awaiting the decision as to whether it will be appealed.  We commend the family of this victim for being brave and standing publicly for justice.

You can view the letter here.
Violence Against Women Inquiry
(Joint Committee on Human Rights)
March 2014

MWNUK submitted written evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights, chaired by Dr Hywel Francis MP, who launched an inquiry into violence against women and girls (VAWG). The Committee undertook the inquiry against the background of the rights of women and girls covered by the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention), yet to be ratified by the Government, and the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  In this context, the Committee was particularly keen to consider the extent to which issues relating to culture, custom, religion or tradition may be used as a justification for any acts of violence against women and girls and other serious human rights violations.

MWNUK responded to this inquiry with a written submission which can be downloaded here.
Women and Socio Economic Growth - Minister for Women
(Department of Culture, Media and Sport)
Roundtable Discussion
January 2014

On the 10th January Vice-Chair Nazmin Akthar attended a roundtable hosted by the Minister for Women.  The discussions included looking at women and socio economic growth in terms of identifying barriers to women's progression in employment across the equality strands including: race, social economic, gender, single parent, disability, child care and potential solutions.
Roundtable Discussion with Shadow Minister
(Labour Party Shadow Minister for Women Gloria De Piero)
Consultation Event
January 2014

On the 11thJanuary diverse MWNUK members participated in a roundtable discussion with Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Gloria De Piero MP. The event provided an opportunity for the voices of Muslim women to reach policy influencers directly. And there was no holding back - the attendees spoke openly about the issues affecting them. Topics included corruption in local politics, childcare, discrimination and much more.

Listening to Women Roadshow
(Shadow Women's Minister visits MWNUK)
Consultation Event
January 2014

Labour Party's Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Gloria De Perio and Yasmin Quereshi MP have been listening to women around the country and visited Birmingham to speak to Muslim women on 11th January 2014.
Domestic & Sexual Violence Inquiry
(All Party Parliamentary Group)
Oral Evidence Session
November 2013

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic and Sexual Violence held an Inquiry into Justice for Women Survivors of Violence.  MWNUK was invited to give evidence.  Our Vice Chair Nazmin Akthar represented us in the oral evidence session on 27 November 2013. Thank you to MWNUK members who contributed views for the inquiry particularly BME women's experiences of the criminal justice system.

Media Ownership & Plurality
(Department of Culture, Media and Sport)
October 2013

A measurement / monitoring framework is being 'considered by government' on media ownership and plurality. The government therefore launched a consultation on Media Ownership and Plurality - the deadline for views was 22nd October 2013. MWNUK responded to the consultation and raised a range of concerns that included: the lack of balanced reporting by some media about women (especially victims of sexual abuse), women generally, ethnic minorities especially Muslim women. 

Our full response can be downloaded here.
Preventing Violent Extremism
Consultation Report
September 2009

In September 2009, MWNUK submitted a report to the parliamentary select committee inquiry on the Preventing Violent Extremism programme after consulting our members. In August 2010, we hosted a meeting in Birmingham and facilitated a discussion between Muslim women and representatives from the Home Office where women could raise concerns about the preventing violent extremism agenda.  This meeting gave Muslim women an opportunity to input their views directly to government to influence and shape new policies in this area of work. 

Click here to view report.
Prosecuting Child Abuse Cases
(Crown Prosecution)
September 2013

The Crown Prosecution Service set out 'Interim Guidelines on Prosecuting Cases of Child Abuse,' which were opened for public consultation until 3 September 2013.  The guidelines made very little mention of BME victims. In light of the pilot study conducted by MWNUK, UNHEARD VOICES:  Sexual Exploitation of Asian Girls and Young Women, we responded to the consultations and pointed out concerns and made recommendations. 

Our full response can be downloaded here.
Non Registration of Marriages
(Ministry of Justice)
September 2013

Many Muslim women who have Muslim marriages (nikahs) in Britain do not also have their marriages formally registered under British law.  This of course has many negative repercussions for women if the marriage breaks down.  The Ministry of Justice are exploring the non registration of marriages and partnered with MWNUK to hold a consultation event in Blackburn,  which was hosted by the MWNUK General Secretary Mussurut Zia. The event was attended by 40 local women, local registrars and the super intendant registrar. 
Trandforming Legal Aid
June 2013

MWNUK responded to the government consultation on cuts to the 2bn legal aid budget.  The short consultation period reduced the capacity of many organisations like ours to seek views from members. However, we raised concerns that the proposals are going to exclude those most at need taking legal aid away from perhaps the most vulnerable of individuals who may need it the most. We warned that instead of assisting such victims, the proposals may hinder them further into silence.  We also raised concerns that discrimination cases are being removed from the scope of legal aid for prisoners, which is surprising considering the numbers of prisoners from a BME background and with learning difficulties / disabilities.The minimum residency requirement for accessing legal aid was also highlighted as a concern as it may impact forced marriage cases, especially when victims are taken abroad for a long period of time.  We also said that victims of domestic violence may become especially reluctant to report a crime or even seek protection where their immigration status is unsettled. 

To read our full response and concerns raised, the report can be downloaded here.

CSW Discussion with Minister for Women
Roundtable Meeting
March 2013

Several women's organisations, including MWNUK were invited to attend a meeting with Maria Miller MP, Secretary of State for Women and Equalities.  Some of other organisations attending included:Women's Resource Centre, Women's Aid, Imkaan, UN Women (UK), Forward, and NAWO. The outcomes of the Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) event held at the United Nations (4-15 March) were discussed along with how these could be promoted domestically and internationally.  The main outcome included ensuring that the CSW agreements need to be simplified and cascaded to civil society organisation, so they can start holding their governments accountable.

Body Image Discussion with Minister for Women
Roundtable Meeting
January 2013

Jo Swinson MP (Minister for Women and Equality) invited five women for a private roundtable discussion, including Shaista Gohir to represent MWNUK. Other women's groups represented included:Girl Guiding, Feminista, Object and Imkaan. Issues discussed included: female genital mutilation, labioplasty, body image, portrayal of women in advertising, film and media, impact of pornography, attitudes of men and boys and the role education / schools can play in changing attitudes.
Criminalising Forced Marriage
(Home Office)
March 2012

Between 12th December 2011 to 30th March 2012, the government held a consultation seeking views on whether a specific criminal offence would help us to combat forced marriage and, if so, how it would be formulated.  Criminilising forced marriage is likely to result in many people not reporting for fear of getting their families prosecuted. However, the consensus amongt the small sample of members we consulted was that it should be criminalised.

Read the responses and short report here.
Immigration and Education
Shadow Home Secretary visits MWNUK
Consultation Event

January 2012

Politicians from the Shadow Cabinet, Yvetter Cooper MP and Shabana Mahmood MP visited MWNUK offices where they spoke to Birmingham Muslim women about their views on immigration and education.

Government Engaging with Women Consultation
(Government Equalities Office)
Consultation Event
November 2010

The Women's National Commission (WNC), which
was the official, independent advisory bodygiving views of women to government was closed on 31st December 2010.  The Governmentt Equalities Office (GEO), therefore took some of the functions of WNC over centrally and prepared a consultation exercise to engage with women across the UK in 2011. Rather than wait to be consulted, Muslim Women's Network UK, in partnership with the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations at the University of Warwick contacted GEO to arrange a national roundtable discussion with Muslim women.  This was held on 29th November 2010 and 14 Muslim women from around the UK from diverse ethnic backgrounds and diverse fields of work
participated. This resulted in the report, Muslim Women:
Political and Civic Engagement in the UK.

The detailed version of report can be found here.

The summary version can be found here.
Barriers to Health for Muslim Women
Department for Health
Consultation Events
January 2008

We conducted health workshops in Bolton and Blackburn to explore barriers to health for Muslim women.A copy of the report submitted to the Department of Health is available on our website.

You can view the report here.
Equality Bill
Consultation Report
August 2007

In August 2007, MWNUK responded to the Government's consultation on the introduction of a Single Equality Act and the extension of the public sector duty to promote equality to other grounds such as religion.

You can view the report here.
All Party Parliementary Inquiry into Tackling Terrorism.
(All Party Parliamentary Group)
July 2007

The APPG held an inquiry looking into how to tackle terrorism and its impact.  We highlighted the impact of the 'war on terror' on Muslim women.  We gave examples of the verbal and physical harassment they face as well as discrimination and barriers in employment and education.

The full response can be viewed here.

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