Muslim girls will be picking up swords in Birmingham as part of a project using fencing to tackle negative stereotypes of Muslim girls and women. ‘Muslim Girls Fence’ a Maslaha project, in collaboration with British Fencing has been delivered to great acclaim in East London and will now be coming to schools and colleges in Birmingham in partnership with Sport Birmingham, Birmingham City Council and the Kingsbury School Sports Partnership.
Muslim Girls Fence boldly challenges prevalent misperceptions of young Muslim women, in light of the complex discrimination experienced by this group on the basis of both faith and gender.
This Wednesday November 23rd Muslim girls from schools in Birmingham will take part in an engagement day at the Firs and Bromford Wellbeing Centre 9:30 am – 2:30 pm.
As part of the event, former Olympic fencer and CEO of British Fencing Georgina Usher will take part in a Q &A with four young ambassadors who took part in the successful Muslim Girls Fence Pilot in Walthamstow earlier this year.
A photographic series and trailer film documenting the journey of participants in East London earlier this year were showcased at the Southbank Centre in March 2016 as part of the Woman of the World (WOW) Festival. The series shares visions and reflections of what it really means to be a Muslim girl in the UK today, and challenges the overwhelmingly negative image of Muslim women reinforced in mainstream media.
Fencing is a sport associated with confidence building and empowerment. This initiative taps into this potential for positive change, challenging misperceptions of and raising aspirations among young Muslim women, a group facing double discrimination on the basis of both faith and gender. The initiative will also break down conceptions of fencing as a white-dominated, elite sport that is not accessible to young people of all backgrounds.
- On Wednesday’s engagement day girls will take part in fencing sessions and workshops around identity and belonging.
- The project will be delivered in six schools in Birmingham between November 2016 and February 2017
- Images from the ‘Don’t Fence Me In’ photography series featured at WOW 2016 will be on show at the centre throughout the day
For more information see www.muslimgirlsfence.org
“British Fencing are delighted to be working in partnership with Maslaha to support the delivery of this exciting project. Through this unique fencing experience we aim to inspire and encourage more Muslim women of all ages to engage in sport and lead physically active lives. British Fencing is also committed to exploring the wider social benefits of our sport and the positive impact that it can have on building confidence and self esteem. Working collaboratively with Maslaha, sharing our knowledge and experience, our shared goal is to create a model that can be replicated across the country, empowering many Muslim women and helping them to lead more physically active lives.” Georgina Usher, CEO, British Fencing
“It is not an easy time to be a Muslim girl in the UK. Persistent negative stereotyping, combined with counter-extremism policies that are operating to stigmatize young Muslims, mean that more than ever Muslim girls and women find themselves spoken for as opposed to spoken to. This project aims to reinstate Muslim girls as their own storytellers, and to open up a space for Muslim girls to articulate and express their identity on their own terms. In a climate where public imagination around Muslim women is being ever constricted and manipulated, this initiative is an opportunity to reclaim a narrative and tell honest stories focused on aspiration, creativity and very real lived experiences.” Latifa Akay, Project Manager, Maslaha
“It’s like showing the world, just because I’m Muslim and I’m a girl and I’m not white – doesn’t mean I can’t do fencing, I can, and here I am showing you I can.”—Year 8 pupil, Frederick Bremer School
Maslaha creates new ways of tackling long-standing issues affecting communities. We combine imagination and craftsmanship to improve services, change attitudes and challenge systems of inequality. We work to influence practice, policy and public imagination. Our work ranges from health interventions to working with ex-offenders, to addressing gender inequality, to exhibitions that have toured 35 cities in 11 countries across Europe. Our work is rooted in locality but is used nationally and internationally.
In 2012, Maslaha was named one of Britain’s 50 New Radicals by NESTA and the Observer newspaper, an initiative to find examples of inspirational social pioneers. In 2014 Maslaha’s work in mental health was announced overall winner of the global Innovation Mindset Challenge, a competition run by Project Innovation in New York and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and Columbia University.
Images courtesy of http://www.muslimgirlsfence.org/galleries.html