#IWD2022: Muslim women fight for a seat at the table

By Isabella Jewell

Pastel-pink infographics, inspirational tweets and accounts of workplace discrimination. International Women’s Day lit up social media feeds across the globe on Tuesday.

But one charity in Manchester decided to take on a new spin in marking the day, due to what it said has been a historic lack of focus on the achievements of Muslim women.

On Saturday, the Muslim Women’s Arts Foundation launched at the Whitworth Gallery on Oxford Road with an action-packed schedule of poetry, music and dance from the Muslim world.

The foundation was established by the Muslim Arts and Culture Festival, a charitable organisation which has been running arts and culture events in the city for the last three years.

One of the organisers of Saturday’s event, Maryam Afolabi, said establishing the foundation will amplify the voices of women who have been “the face of suffering and oppression”.

Maryam regrets that the International Women’s Day does not give enough focus to the Muslim women. “The event,” she said, “will help to change this as it is aimed at celebrating and elevating Muslim women through different forms of art in order to promote their social inclusion”.

Global social media feeds also focused on the fight for women’s inclusion through hashtags like #BreakTheBias, #GenderPayGap and #GenderPensionGap. Large corporations also picked up the messages to promote the cause of gender equality.

Many members of the public said there is still a long way to go in terms of achieving equality in these areas.

The Gender Pay Gap Bot also helped push for equality by tweeting about the gender pay gaps of employers who tweeted about International Women’s Day.

It was hailed by one Rachel Coldicutt as a “triumph of open data”.

According to Statista, the gender pay gap for gross hourly earnings in 2021 was widest in the finance and insurance sector, followed by education; information and communication; professional, scientific and technical and then health and social work.

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