Redbridge faith leaders speak after research finds Muslim women less likely to be employed

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 April 2016

East London Three Faiths Forum's Khola Hasan

East London Three Faiths Forum's Khola Hasan


Redbridge faith leaders have spoken after new research revealed Muslim women are less likely to be employed than non-Muslim women with the same qualifications.

Vaseem from MEND. Picture: MENDVaseem from MEND. Picture: MEND

The findings by Dr Nabil Khattab of the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies in Qatar and Dr Shereen Hussein of King’s College London were revealed at the British Sociological Association’s annual conference in Birmingham last week.

The academics, who surveyed 245,000 women in the UK, found the unemployment rate for Muslim women was between 5.9 per cent and 27pc – depending on their ethnic background – and 3.5pc for white non-Muslim women.

Coordinator for anti-Islamophobia group Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) Vaseem Ahmed, 47, from Gants Hill, said it was because hijab-wearing Muslim women were “more visible”.

“I get people who come and meet me and tell me how difficult it is to get a job when you send a CV with a Muslim name,” he said.

“They can even have really encouraging phone interviews but when they meet for the first time and they see the hijab, the whole mood of the meeting changes.”

East London Three Faiths Forum’s Khola Hasan, from Clayhall, said racism was “on the rise”.

She said: “It doesn’t surprise me at all. I wouldn’t say take your hijabs off but I think Muslims have a job to win the hearts of people.”

The researchers analysed the women based on their level of education, family situation and age.

They found first-generation Muslim women of Bangladeshi origin, were more than six times more likely to be unemployed than white non-Muslim women with the same background. First generation Muslim Pakistani and Muslim black women were four times more likely to be unemployed.

Farouk Ismail, chairman of the Federation of Redbridge Muslim Organisations (FORMO), said “it’s definitely an issue” in Redbridge’s Muslim communities, which make up almost a quarter of the borough’s population. “It’s wrong,” he said. “But it’s something that needs to be addressed positively.”

Chairwoman of Ilford women’s charity Awaaz, Bushra Tahir, said: “It’s upsetting, it’s ruining people’s lives. I have come across women that have struggled but all we can do is mentally prepare them for it.”

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