Tag Archive: female

MEP Amjad Bashir hosts global conference on women and Islam

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"Forced marriage and FGM are not condoned by the Holy Quran. Pakistan gave women votes 24 years before Switzerland.”

Forced marriage, female genital mutilation and exclusion from the labour market were among the issues tackled at a high-level conference in Brussels addressing gender equality and Islam.

Held in the European Parliament, the event was organised by Amjad Bashir MEP and brought together experts, religious leaders, politicians and diplomats from across the globe.

Mr Bashir, Conservative MEP for Yokshire and The Humber and a consistent campaigner for human rights, opened the discussion by raising the question: "Is Islam the reason behind oppression and discrimination - or is it deeply entrenched backward practices dating back thousands of years?"

Speakers included Tunisian-born Italian MP Imen Ben Mohemed, gender equality lawyer Seyran Ateş, Imam Qari Mohammad Asim MBE of the Makkah Mosque in Leeds, Egyptian campaigner Nouran Salah, and Souad Adnan, a lawyer who has worked with charities around the world on gender equality issues.

After the conference, Mr Bashir said: "Media coverage and general perception of Muslim women in the West is often associated with oppression and discrimination.

"I wanted this conference not only to show examples of highly enlightened thinking and practice within the Islamic and Arabic world - but also to examine the abuse, oppression and denial of opportunity which does exist.

“I want to explore exactly how it has come about and how it can be addressed - rather than making the lazy and inaccurate assumption that it is all down to Islam.

"Forced marriage and FGM are not condoned by the Holy Quran. Pakistan gave women votes 24 years before Switzerland.

"I hope we have given people more insights on best practices in promoting gender equality and individual freedoms in the Muslim communities everywhere in the world,

"We want to encourage furthering community cohesion and inter-faith cooperation in Western societies, and we will continue to promote the emancipation of Muslim women and greater access to the world of work and business."

HISTORICAL: Preet Kaur Gill’s win as Britain’s first female Sikh MP is landmark achievement

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POIGNANT: Preet Kaur Gill’s election as MP of Birmingham Edgbaston comes almost 100 years after the fight to allow women the vote

POIGNANT: Preet Kaur Gill’s election as MP of Birmingham Edgbaston comes almost 100 years after the fight to allow women the vote


The recent General Election results has overseen a huge shift in power as Labour managed to wrestle back some of the Conservative stranglehold with two Sikh Labour Candidates earning seats for the first time.

Labour candidate Preet Kaur Gill has become the first female Sikh MP having gained the Birmingham Edgbaston seat with a majority vote replacing Gisela Stuart who stepped down when the election was called by Theresa May.

Preet Kaur secured 24,124 votes to hold Birmingham Edgbaston for Labour with a majority of 6,917, beating her Conservative counterpart Caroline Squire who mustered 17,207 votes.

This is a major landmark achievement for the Sikh community showing they are becoming a growing influence in UK politics and that parties in future must learn from Labour’s success this time with regards to representation where the Sikh community is concerned.

Bhai Amrik Singh who is the chair of the Sikh federation spoke of Gill’s appointment as MP and explained how it won’t be easy for her and fellow Sikh MP Tanmanjeet Singh who became the first Turban wearing Sikh MP as his Labour candidacy won the Slough seat.

Singh said: “There are high expectations of Preet and Tanmanjeet, first and foremost they need to serve their constituents and strengthen the Labour party as there could be another general election within six months.”

The chair of the Sikh federation also spoke of the Sikh community and what this means to them he said: “The Sikh community in the UK and beyond will also be closely observing their achievements.

“They have so much to offer and we are convinced they will make the Sikh community proud.”

The consensus on social media was an outpouring of positivity with Gill being congratulated both in the UK and back home in India.

One Tweet which stood out in particular was from Anita Anand where she poignantly spoke of the historical importance of this event by @tweeter_anita.

One Tweet which stood out in particular was from Anita Anand where she poignantly spoke of the historical importance of this event by @tweeter_anita.

Female-led organisations identify priorities for women

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Over 70 women from across Leeds, from all walks of life, came together to identify the priorities to make Leeds the best city for women and girls.

The Forum was organised by Women’s Lives Leeds (WLL) and is a unique partnership of twelve women and girls organisations from across Leeds.

Between them they have specialist individuals working for various initiatives including domestic violence, mental health, sexual health, sex work, trafficking, child sexual exploitation and education.

The conference room at the Leeds Church Institute was packed out with women of all ages, representing themselves and organisations, to discuss and prioritise the issues that women and girls experience.

Group activities took place to give attendees the opportunity to put forward any areas they felt need addressing in the city. With over 30 items on the list – ranging from employment and safety, to empowerment and education – everyone was then asked to pick their top three priorities.

This activity took place alongside a networking opportunity, giving women the space to meet other women working to empower women and girls.

Viv, an attendee explained: “In all my years in Leeds, I have never been to an event where there are so many women coming together to make sure voices are heard! And I only knew one woman in the room, what a fantastic opportunity to meet others!”

The result of this activity identified the top priorities for women in Leeds which are:  Employment, Violence Against Women and Safety.

These issues will now be tackled by the Forum going forward.

The group also elected a Chair and Deputy Chair for the Forum, who will take on duties for the next year. Kate Bratt-Farrar, Chief Executive of Sue Ryder Wheatfields has taken on the role of Chair, and Marvina Newton, CEO of Angel of Youths will be her Deputy.

Women were extremely complimentary of the event and gave positive feedback, such as “Loved being part of this event, really inspiring!”

Jeannette, Project Manager of Women’s Lives Leeds who organised the event said “It was great to see so many women of all different backgrounds come together and discuss what needs to be done to support women and girls in the city. The event was fully booked, and many more wanted to attend, we will have to organise a bigger venue next time! I can’t wait for the next Forum to keep this excellent momentum going!”

WLL have come together to support the most vulnerable women and girls in Leeds. They are experiencing mental health problems, domestic abuse, sexual violence and exploitation. Many will have experience of the criminal justice system, sex work and substance misuse. WLL will focus on the most disadvantaged communities.

WLL is made up of the following organisations: Leeds Women’s Aid, Behind Closed Doors, Getaway Girls, Hooner Kelah, Halt, Together Women, Women’s Counselling and Therapy Service, Women’s Health Matters, Shantona, Basis, Asha Neighbourhood Project and Nari Ekta. The project launched on 1st November 2016 and has funding from the Big Lottery for four years.

Northern Powerhouse, Young Business Personality, Shazda Ahmed

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Winner and female entrepreneur, Shazda Ahmed is awarded the title of Outstanding Young Business Personality, in the Northern Powerhouse.

The prestigious Northern Lights 2017 inaugural award ceremony was designed to celebrate business excellence and collaboration across the North of England, the ceremony honored the companies and individuals who have been instrumental in working together and driving forward plans to help make the UK Northern Powerhouse a reality.

The Young Business Personality of the Year award recognises that the young people making a name in business today are the people who will be driving the Northern Powerhouse forward tomorrow.

Starting from seed less than 3 years ago, Monarch Solicitors have achieved considerable success and were noted as Manchester Solicitors “which punches well above its weight”, providing expert advice that rivals the regions heavyweights and with turnover doubling year on year.

Specialising in commercial property, litigation and corporate law, the Monarch Solicitors have secured high profile clients and strategic partnerships with Chinese universities and investors seeking to invest in the North.

A regular collaborator with the Manchester Chamber’s of Commerce, the Business Growth Hub, and the regions universities, Shazda Ahmed, was celebrated as “a passionate proponent of the Northern Powerhouse vision”.

Manchester Solicitors’, Shazda Ahmed said: “I am delighted and honored to win this award, in the hugely competitive and well established legal sector in the North.  I hope this award encourages more female entrepreneurs to start up business. Manchester really has been a great home for our success, proving to be the perfect place to launch a new business.”

On the Northern Powerhouse, Shazda Ahmed said “We need a clear central location and leader to spearhead the vision of a Northern Powerhouse into reality. Like London, Manchester is an internally recognised brand and the Northern cities should unite with us to avoid the risk of the vision crumbling”.

Keith Griffiths, Managing Director of UK Northern Powerhouse Conference, said: “The Northern Lights 2017 recognises and rewards firms across the North who are attracting investment and growth into the region. We want to celebrate businesses from every sector, from public sector to property, who are helping to make the UK Northern Powerhouse a reality.”

The awards were judged by The UK Northern Powerhouse International Conference and Exhibition group’s advisory board, which is chaired by Lord Bob Kerslake and made up of prominent business figures across the North of England.

Getting in the girl zone

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LISTENING DIRECTLY: Bradford’s women got the chance to tell the Police Commissioner their crime-related issues directly

LISTENING DIRECTLY: Bradford’s women got the chance to tell the Police Commissioner their crime-related issues directly

Police Commissioner gets the low-down on crime from Bradford’s female residents

The British Muslim Women Forum (BMWF) and Women Zone invited Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, Mark Burns Williamson, to meet local residents from Bradford Moor so that they could raise their issues and concerns related to crime directly with him.

The meeting, held on14th June, was attended by many women who expressed concerns about high levels of drugs related crime in the area, road safety issues and other matters around child sexual exploitation and grooming.

Sabiya Khan, chair of the BMWF, said: “The meeting came about because I stood as a candidate for Bradford Moor Labour Party during the last local election.

“During my campaigns, I was meeting with local residents; especially women who raised issues about drug-related crimes.

“They felt it was going on very openly and little was being done about it.”

The women also felt that Bradford was a city that had road rage issues, with a special mention going out to the quad bikes which ‘roar up and down the roads’, often intimidating other road users and pedestrians by performing wheelies.

Sabiya continued: “As a candidate, I made a pledge to the women that I would arrange a meeting with the Police Commissioner so they could express their views directly to him and work on some solutions together for the area.”

Women Zone is an organisation that works in the area of Bradford and engages with women. They partnered the BMWF in delivering the session with Mr Burns Williamson.

The crime commissioner was described as ‘very receptive’ to the issues the women expressed and ‘listened intently’.

He agreed to look at the problems with his team and promised to continue the dialogue and connection with Women Zone and the BMWF.

Sabiya added: “Mark thought we should look at a partnership approach between the local council and the local policing team in order to look at how those issued could be addressed.”

The connection has now been established and there will be follow up meetings to monitor the progress.

Sabiya said the women felt ‘empowered’ by the meeting.

“It was good for Mark to engage with Bradford’s local women directly,” she concluded. “Women of South Asian origin, particularly Muslim women, don’t often get the opportunity to access the ears of somebody in his position directly so it was a two-way exchange.
“Even though there were some issues with language, there were members of the team who could interpret.”

Birmingham female drag queen flees India

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Part-time teacher and burlesque performer feared for her life after performing on stage in just her KNICKERS

Andrea Smith, 40, says she had to flee India after military police threatened to jail her over her “indecent show” where she wore just nipple tassels and knickers on stage (picture courtesy of Andrea Smith)

Andrea Smith, 40, says she had to flee India after military police threatened to jail her over her “indecent show” where she wore just nipple tassels and knickers on stage (picture courtesy of Andrea Smith)

“I don’t think they had a problem with me performing in nipple tassels, they knew that was coming. Really they were trying to silence me about my outspoken views.”

A female drag queen who appeared on Britain’s Got Talent was chased out of India by armed police when she performed on stage – in just her knickers!

Andrea Smith, 40, a part-time teacher from Birmingham, left organisers of an anti-domestic violence conference fuming after she played a rape victim onstage wearing only underwear and nipple tassels.

She says she was forced to flee the country after being told military police were hunting for her following her “indecent” performance at the Women’s Economic Forum, in New Delhi.

Andrea’s act, ‘Finding Your Voice Through Art’, was designed to spread a message about domestic violence through her alter-ego ‘Swingerella’ earlier this month.

It saw her appear lying on stage in fishnet tights and burlesque nipple covers before she launches into an hour-long spoken-word performance about sexual abuse.

But the next day the mum-of-two claims she had to dodge police waiting for her at the show and flee back to the UK after organisers threatened her with jail.

Andrea said: “My show is outrageous, but they had all my videos and would have known what to expect.

“I performed it and everyone in the audience loved it.

“The organiser wasn’t there, but the next day someone told me he had refused to put a video of the performance on YouTube.

“Then the organiser called me over as I was leaving and said they could take my passport off me and put me in jail for a long time for what I did.

“I said: ‘Why are you body shaming me?’ But he said what I did was illegal in India.

“He told me it was indecent and deeply offensive in their culture.

“He made me feel really ashamed of my body and my act. I was trying to give women a voice and here they were trying to suppress mine.

“I walked off and went home, but the next morning I got a tip off that I should leave the hotel because the military guards were going to arrest me. I was petrified.

“I went to the British Embassy, because apparently they were waiting for me at the show, but they told me if I’d broken the law I’d have to face it.

“So I got my friend to get me a lift straight to the airport and paid £800 for the quickest flight back.

“Being threatened with jail and hunted by armed police is one of the most terrifying things that has ever happened to me. It was very scary.”

Andrea, who auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent in February last year and has also appeared on ‘Come Dine With Me’, says she suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from a past abusive relationship.

Now she draws on her experiences to perform across the UK and has appeared previously at the Edinburgh Festival.

Andrea added: “I think my performance was a bit of a culture shock to them, but it is about domestic abuse.

“Swingerella’s dark fairy tale is showing how when we are abused we pretend to be OK when we are not. It has been described as burlesque but it’s not indecent.

“I don’t think they had a problem with me performing in nipple tassels, they knew that was coming. Really they were trying to silence me about my outspoken views.

“I was asking why there were women getting paid next to nothing to clean the toilets at a Women’s Economic Forum and raising transgender issues.

“Although it was in India, there were women from 75 countries there and I thought it was an open forum to talk about these issues.

“But the organiser, whose wife was dressed like Barbie, seemed to want women to talk and behave a certain way – which I didn’t.

“I just think it’s such a shame, because I was meant to be helping raise awareness of victims of acid attacks in the country until 30th May, but now I can’t do that.
“There are bigger issues here than a middle age woman in tights on stage.”

Manchester’s top female cop suspended after ‘dispute with fellow police woman about breasts’

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What a bust up!

  • Assistant Chief Constable Rebekah Sutcliffe (350x347)Assistant Chief Constable rowed with Superintendent at Senior Women in Policing conference
  • The pair starting arguing about whose breasts were better
  • Greater Manchester Police suspends ACC Rebekah Sutcliffe

A high-ranking police officer has been suspended after reportedly having a dispute with a fellow female officer about who had the most attractive breasts.

46-year-old Assistant Chief Constable Rebekah Sutcliffe got involved in a “loud” row with Superintendent Sarah Jackson at a hotel bar after the Senior Women in Policing Conference earlier this month.

The three-day ceremony held in the city between 4th and 6th May, was an event intended to "focus on the profile and perception of the police service, and the women within it, and the challenges that lie ahead", according to the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner website.

Speakers such as Sara Thornton, chairman of the National Police Chiefs' Council, Victims' Commissioner Baroness Newlove and former National Trust director-general Dame Fiona Reynolds, had attended the event.

It is not clear who started the argument, with one source claiming that ACC Sutcliffe had been 'comparing' breasts with Supt Jackson after their loud disagreement about who had the 'best boobs'.

One insider said that the 'very senior GMP officers were getting drunk and making utter fools of themselves'.

In a statement Greater Manchester Police said: "A senior officer has been suspended following allegations of inappropriate behaviour. An investigation is under way and it would be inappropriate to make further comment."

This is the third time that the three-times married mother-of-three, from Saddleworth has faced criticism over her behaviour.

In 2010 ACC Sutcliffe was given 'suitable advice' by a senior officer after she tried to gatecrash a Labour conference event at a Manchester city centre hotel.

Then in 2014 she was investigated for failing to declare that she was in a relationship with fellow officer Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Rumney during a disciplinary hearing.

Roseville Road’s Balboa babes

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PUNCHING UP PASSION: Maria Chu’s female only boxing sessions are a knock-out success

PUNCHING UP PASSION: Maria Chu’s female only boxing sessions are a knock-out success

‘Female only’ boxing class is a big hitter

Thirty-five-year-old Thai trainer Maria Chu has got women of all ages running ‘Rocky style’ up and down flights of stairs after their vigorous boxing session at her ‘female only’ class on Roseville Road in Leeds.

The super fit mother-of-one says that her Thai boxing classes, on  Sundays at Kiatphontip Gym, are becoming a ‘real hit’ with Asian women in particular, swapping their hijabs for high kicks, in order to gain confidence and get fighting fit.

Maria said: “I’ve been training for 28 years, after my first fight at the age of seven. I was drawn in by the discipline and the techniques. It’s one of the best stand-up sports you can do.

“For our Sunday class, the ladies do a small warm up. Then I teach them how to shadow box which involves learning how to punch, knee and elbow.  After that, they partner up and do some rounds on the pads and practice their kicks, followed by a cool down.”

However, some women are just warming up and instead of taking part in gentle stretching exercises before they leave for home, they decide that they haven’t sweated enough and begin to pound up and down the staircases like Rocky Balboa.

“The women say that they feel hugely self-assured and positive after a good boxing session. It’s so lovely to watch them transform from being rather shy and unfit to superwomen who can take on anything.”

Around 40 ladies attend Maria’s classes on the top floor of a beautiful old building.

Maria said: “I like to help people in the sport, whether it’s for self defence; general fitness, toning up or gaining more confidence. There are many different reasons each lady comes to train.

"My husband Jompop is also a professional fighter from Thailand. We take our fighters all around the world for competitions and we have a bunch of up-and-coming talents that will be names to watch out for in the future."