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Women from Muslim Communities and Politics in Britain and France

Project Aims

  • to examine how women from Muslim communities (re)gain the capacity to become social actors through their interaction with and within the institutional and cultural frameworks of British and French societies;
  • to challenge prevalent stereotypes (‘subjugated', 'passive', 'uninterested', 'uninformed') of Muslim women projected in the media and public discourses by providing information about their participation in political processes and structures;
  • to inform policy and decision makers about the concerns, views and political attitudes of this group so that public policy (whether related to political and civil rights, immigration and nationality, health and welfare or education) takes account of the specific problems, achievements and aspirations of women from Muslim communities.


Objectives

  • to build a sociological profile of the women from Muslim communities. This will include: age, civil status, main language spoken; the level of attachment to their respective community and faith; level of education and qualification; employment status; nationality of origin where relevant; labour, family, refugee migrant status; second or subsequent generation status;
  • to identify the specific political and social structures and cultures in Britain and France bearing influence on their political participation;
  • to locate the empirical findings of the research within the growing body of theoretical literature on gender, ethnicity and political participation. Data assembled on Muslim women’s modes of participation will contribute to the small evidence base that exists on the relationship(s) between gender, ethnicity and politics and to expanded definitions of political participation;
  • to establish a typology of political participation modes which will identify the different forms of organisation through which the women's activism is channelled (community associations, mosque/religious groups, transversal organisations, campaigns and coalitions including Muslim women and women from other religious/cultural and ethnic backgrounds); the issues motivating political participation; leadership functions and national groups involved (do political conditions in countries of origin or of Muslim majorities influence the forms of participation in which women engage and why?).


Outcomes

Theoretical Contribution

  • an exploration of the inter-relatedness of the position of women (from Muslim communities), gender and politics;
  • an elaboration of definitions and feminist critiques of political participation through consideration of: the constraints imposed by majority (i.e. western) society on this group; the opportunities and resources they create for themselves in order to participate more effectively;
  • an analysis of the capacity of Muslim women to become social actors;
  • an articulation of political concepts, by an under-represented group, based on the realities of which it is the subject.


Practical Contribution

  • Production of a short report on the political engagement of Muslim women based on a survey questionnaire (adapted from MORI’s 2005 audit of political engagement in the UK survey) distributed among 120 women from Muslim communities in each of the countries (Britain and France) under study.
  • Production of a directory of organisations and campaigns in which women from Muslim communities are involved;
  • Production of a monograph on women from Muslim communities and their political participation;
  • International conference(s) on women from Muslim communities and their political participation in Britain and France (Birmingham, September 2010; Paris, May 2011).