Christian women join Muslims to form network
WHEN planning the
publicity for the launch of the Muslim-Christian Women's Network
for Leicester, the organisers were advised to mention something
about terrorism in Woolwich or the British National Party.
Otherwise, they were told, "Why would anyone want to take notice of
a bunch of women getting together?"
In fact, the BBC, among
others, recognised the value of a positive story of faith and
cohesion. Launched at the central mosque in Leicester, the network
has been created to connect women's groups in the city. It was born
out of the work of Raheema Caratella, an outreach worker for the
Christian Muslim Forum, who has mapped women's groups in the city,
creating a directory of them. The Revd Bonnie Evans-Hills, the
Bishop of Leicester's acting interfaith adviser, paid tribute to
her work at the launch.
"We have discovered so
many women in this city of Leicester, women of deeply held faith
and courage, who work so hard - women who have suffered domestic
violence, or forced marriage, or rape; women who have been denied
an education, who are not allowed to make friends or socialise
outside of their homes, women who have no voice, no space in their
place or worship," Mrs Evans-Hills said. "These women come from
every culture, from every background, from every faith. . . Their
work goes largely unnoticed."
The conference heard from
Sumaiya Mulla and Rumena Choudhury, workers for the STR!VE project,
which raises awareness on issues such as forced marriage, domestic
abuse, and "honour-related" violence. The co-chair of the forum,
Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, also spoke at the launch.
Anjum Anwar, the
dialogue-development officer at Blackburn Cathedral and a trustee
of the forum, also attended the event. "As with most major
organisations, the Christian-Muslim Forum has been London-centric,"
she said on Tuesday. "We wanted to bring the work of the forum to
grassroots communities in the North West and the Midlands. . . We
hope that the network could be a blueprint for other areas.
"Women have a lot to
contribute, and, unfortunately, what women tend to do is get on
with the work, and very rarely talk about and celebrate the
The forum and the new
network would engage with issues about the part played by women in
the Church and in mosques, she said, but intra-faith discussions
must happen first. "We must be very clear that intra-dialogue needs
to take place first within organisations and the religious
"That discussion has already started. We had a conference here
about the role of the mosque in the 21st century, and we had a
woman scholar who came and spoke. . . It is about starting
conversations separately then we bring them together."