Muslim women suffer from the same inequalities as other women. In most Western countries, they are also the main targets of Islamophobic hate crimes, hate speech and violence, especially if they wear a headscarf. In today’s world, the rights and freedom of Muslim women to dress and live as they want to is increasingly under attack around the world. The hijab, for some a symbol of freedom, for others, of oppression, has become an increasingly fraught political symbol. 

In this panel, we discuss three countries that have hit the headlines in recent months due to the clash between state and the freedom of Muslim women to dress in the manner they choose: France, Afghanistan and India. Our panel, chaired by equalities campaigner Akeelah Ahmed MBE, will examine the intersectional challenges Muslim women face around the world.

Secure a seat at this urgent event, featuring award-winning international public speaker on Muslim issues and global feminism writer Mona Eltahawy; English-French academic and broadcaster Myriam François, and author of the critically-acclaimed book Mothering a Muslim, Nazia Erum.

About The Speakers

Mona Eltahawy

Mona Eltahawy is an award-winning columnist and an international public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues and global feminism. She is the author of Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution. Her commentaries have appeared in several publications and she is a regular guest analyst on various television and radio shows.

Myriam Francois Headshot

Myriam Francois

Dr Myriam Francois is a Franco-Irish journalist, filmmaker and writer. Her credits include documentary “City of Refuge” examined the plight of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, the 2019 “We need to talk about whiteness” podcast and Myriam’s writing are featured widely in the British press, including the Guardian, TIME, Foreign Policy, the Telegraph, CNN online and Middle East Eye, among others.

Myriam is a former Research Associate at the Centre of Islamic Studies (CIS) at SOAS University. She completed her PhD (DPhil) at Oxford University, focusing on Islamic movements in Morocco in 2017. She holds an MA from Georgetown University (USA) and a BA from Cambridge university (UK).

She was nominated as part of the “40 under 40” European Young Leaders (EYLs) class of 2017and was awarded ‘Woman in Media Award’ at the Muslim Women Awards 2021.

Nazia Erum headshot

Nazia Erum

Nazia Erum is the author of the critically acclaimed and hard-hitting book, ‘Mothering a Muslim’, which opened prime-time discussions on the telly and front page headlines in South Asia. It has been called ‘one of the most poignant books of our time’ by Vogue and a ‘book that has started conversations’ around social cohesion and identity by BBC World News. She was included in The Telegraph’s Stand-out Voices and The Mid-Day’s Women Change-makers in India. Her interfaith initiatives find mention in the BBC, The Guardian, Le Monde, Washington Post among other international media. She has worked with leading human rights organizations across the globe.

About The Chair

Akeela Ahmed

Akeela Ahmed

Akeela Ahmed MBE is a business leader, social entrepreneur and equalities campaigner for 20 years. In 2014 she founded ‘She Speaks We Hear’ which gives unfiltered women’s voices a platform. Akeela advises and works with government in tackling anti-Muslim hatred, sitting on the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group as Chair of the Independent Members. She is a Trustee for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and a Trustee for the Refugee Employment Network. Since January 2021, Akeela has been Lay Member for Patient and Public Involvement and Equalities Champion at NHS Brighton & Hove CCG. Akeela was a co-organiser of the Women’s March on London and in January 2017 spoke to over one hundred thousand people at the Women’s March on London. For her work with WML she was listed as one of Stylist’s Women of the Year 2017. Her portrait was part of the National Trust’s We Are Bess exhibition at Hardwick Hall, which showcased modern and historic female leaders.