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4 Ways Islamic Relief Is Standing Up for Gender Justice Worldwide

Last week we marked International Women’s Day (IWD) 2018 and the great strides that have been made in the fight for gender justice worldwide. However, IWD also reminds us of just how much more needs to be done.

A big part of our mission to save and transform the lives of people across the world is about tackling poverty and inequality. Naturally, we’ve therefore always taken the issue of gender justice seriously as where there is poverty there is far greater gender inequality too!

This year Islamic Relief is standing up and speaking out more loudly than ever about gender inequality. As London Mayor Sadiq Khan said recently: “When we achieve true gender equality, we all benefit”.

So whether we’re ensuring that women are empowered and building a stable income through our livelihoods programmes, or mothers are supported through our alternative orphan sponsorship, as the first Muslim-led humanitarian charity to introduce a global gender justice policy Islamic Relief recognises that empowering women must be at the forefront of the fight towards ending poverty.

Change is in the air and we are standing up and speaking out to establish gender justice across the globe. Here’s four ways that Islamic Relief are putting women first.

1. Mobilising the community

This year for the first time ever, our volunteers march in solidarity with organisations across the UK joined in Care International UK’s annual #March4Women.

What an inspiring day! Thousands of people from across the UK – both men and women – called for urgent action to end the inequality and injustice women worldwide face every day. Inspired by our faith, Islamic Relief volunteers from across the country were part of this journey, representing their community and the women who we’re supporting around the world.

Just last week, we also spoke alongside the Muslim Council of Britain and parliamentarians including Naz Shah MP on our work on gender justice, calling on Muslim civil society to join us as we strive for change. So, wherever it may be, we’re at the heart of the community mobilising people to do more.

2. Addressing global policy

On the 16th March at the United Nations Conference ‘The 62nd Commission on the Statius of Women’, Islamic Relief worldwide will be launching a consultation on the first ever ‘Gender Justice Declaration’. This is global declaration to call on Muslim faith leaders, governments, institutions and civil society actors to commit to establish gender justice globally. This includes increasing participation of women in public life, economic empowerment and tackling violence against women and girls.

When we introduced policy recommendations on climate change, the highest Muslim authority in 11 countries across nine continents, including the Muslim Council of Britain, came on board. We’re therefore incredibly excited for this next step and hope to achieve some of the same amazing outcomes on this crucial global issue.

3. Tackling violence against women and girls worldwide

Islamic Relief UK have now introduced our dedicated Women’s Protection Fund, so that we can raise the funds and resources to be able tackle violence against women and girls (VAWG) on the ground in our worldwide programmes including issues such as female genital mutilation (FGM), early and forced marriage (EFM), domestic abuse, human trafficking and honour killings.

The fund is supplemented by IRUK’s first VAWG project which we implemented in Ethiopia. We trained faith leaders in some of the most conservative communities on the importance of women’s rights and on how tackle issues such as FGM and EFM in their communities. We are training health care providers to be able to deal with these issues from a health perspective and offer crucial support to victims. By also providing cash loans to local women, we’re helping to break the cycle of poverty which often feeds gender inequality and violence against women and girls.

Through our new dedicated fund we’re able to empower women on the ground and raise greater awareness of these issues as we call for our supporters to join us on this mission.

4. Breaking the glass ceiling

Lastly but certainly not least, Islamic Relief UK officially now has a female majority UK Executive Board. With members Samina Haq (Head of Programmes), Fatima Ribeiro (Head of PMO), Judith Escribano (Head of Communications) and Rubina Khan (Interim Head of Corporate Services), Islamic Relief is leading the way in breaking the stereotype of male-led leadership.

At Islamic Relief, we firmly believe that if you want to establish gender justice worldwide, it starts with us – including our leadership model. In fact the Chair of Islamic Relief Worldwide’s Board of Trustees is none other than sister Lamia El Amri – a women’s rights activist!

There’s already been some great work mobilising communities and leaders and empowering women at home abroad. However, this isn’t it. There’s more! In the next coming months, we’ll be launching a ground-breaking campaign to address the injustices women and girls face every day around the world. Stay tuned to find out how you can get involved!

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