From education to employment

Report finds barrier to employment

A report undertaken by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has found that Muslim women, particularly those who wear the hijab, are finding it difficult to find work due to stereotypes in the workplace.

Engaging with Muslim Women also found that ethnic minority communities overall have a lower employment rate than the rest of the population with Bangladeshi and Pakistani women suffering the worst with the rates hovering around 24 per cent.

The report was undertaken after a meeting on 10 May 2006 at 10 Downing St between Prime Minister Tony Blair and 40 Muslim women from across the UK. The women were able to talk to the Prime Minister about the issues affecting themselves, their families and their communities.

Muslim women across the country also expressed their desire to want to play a stronger and more active role in their Mosques and communities as a whole. Many feel that they are routinely excluded from Mosques and community leadership.

Minister for Women and Communities Ruth Kelly announced yesterday that the DCLG will use the knowledge and expertise gained to work with DWP to investigate the reasons behind the exclusions in the workplace.

“Finding practical measures to raise employment levels for women from ethnic minority backgrounds into the workplace is a key priority,” Kelly said. “Many Muslim women have said that they want to play a more active role in the workplace and we already know that helping women harness their full potential is worth up to £23 billion a year to the UK economy”.

“There is an obvious case here for bridging that gap – this is not about preferential treatment but about tackling the barriers to Muslim women entering the labour market, where there are genuine shortages, and making the most of that pool of talent” she said.

“The Government is also committed to encouraging more women from Muslim communities to take up roles in public life. However, we can only do this with the support of communities themselves and their own encouragement for women to have a stronger role”.

Irene Watt.

Next week: the Centre for Excellence in Leadership write exclusively for FE News

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