Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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Muslim women to be trained for public office

Muslim women to be trained for public office

COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT News Release (045) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 9 March 2009

The Muslim Women's Advisory group have today kicked off a project to get more Muslim Women' involved in politics.

There are at least 800,000 Muslim women living in Britain today but they are under-represented in positions of influence in British civic society including roles such as school governors and local councillors. The Muslim Women's Advisory Group therefore wants to provide the support to increase the skills, knowledge, and confidence, of Muslim women to enable more to seek positions in civic society and public office.

The project 'Play Your Part - Make Your Mark' will work with women that are already starting to get involved in public life in order to give them the extra support that they need to progress as far as possible; and it will also work with women who have not yet put themselves into the public sphere but who want to do so.

The project will involve:

* A residential weekend at a leading UK university which will focus on developing networking and communication skills and giving the participants the opportunity to meet with a range of existing mentors and role models such as established magistrates, councillors, school governors and public appointment recruitment specialists

* Two follow up one day programmes. The first will specialise in the finer skills of power and influence, pace and timing, leadership and teamwork, adapting to new environments, knowing your strengths, broadening your vision, courage and caution and preparing to lead change. The second day will develop public speaking skills such as negotiation and debating.

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said:

"I am delighted to see this project getting off the ground, and I hope that as many Muslim women as possible will take advantage of the opportunity to increase their skills. Muslim women can be a powerful force and as local leaders are vitally important in making their communities stronger. But, we need to see more Muslim women getting involved in politics at all levels - from school governors and local councillor's right through to the national level.

"In my work with the Muslim Women's Advisory Group I see women who are empowered and confident and who have achieved great things. This month is international women's month - so let's lead the way, and through this project help even more women to gain the confidence to step into the public arena."

Reedah Al-Saie, a member of the Muslim Women's advisory group said:

"Muslim Women are significantly under-represented in civic life. Like other women, they have a wide variety of skills which are under-utilised; they multi-task, balance family, home, community and work needs on a regular basis. Our Civic Skills Project 'Play Your Part - Make Your Mark' aims to encourage, highlight and celebrate the contribution that Muslim women are making to Britain. We aim to nurture the skills, talents and confidence of women on the programme and make progressive change by enhancing their networks within, and appointing mentors from, mainstream civic and political life in order to ensure more MPs, councillors, magistrates, schools governors and public appointments are secured."

For details of how to apply for the project please visit the website http://www.localleadership.gov.uk for an application form, to apply for a free place on this unique course, the deadline for applications is March 23 2009.

In addition if you have any queries please contact Paul Wheeler paul.wheeler@politicalskills.com or your Regional National Muslim Women's Advisory Group member details below:

East Midlands: Parvin Ali - info@fatima-network.com

London: Reedah Nijabat El-Saie - reedah@IslamicArtandDesign.com North West: Siddika Ahmed - siddika.ahmed@gonw.gsi.gov.uk

Scotland: Farkhanda Chaudhry - ummhashim04@yahoo.co.uk

Yorkshire andHumber: Naheed Arshad-Mather - naheed.a-m@ntlworld.com

Notes to editors

1. The National Muslim Women's Advisory Group (NMWAG) was formed in November 2007 and is made up of 19 Muslim women from all over country representing a wide spectrum of communities, professions and traditions.

2. The MWAG meets several times a year and are an independent informal group advising on issues to empower Muslim women and increase their participation in civic, economic and social life. NMWAG has been set up by Communities and Local Government as part of its work to prevent violent extremism.

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