Her interests lie in the areas of Middle East politics, Islam, international relations and gender issues. Huda’s success illustrates her work-ethic, passion and drive to be a role model for not just the women in her community, but everyone who knows and works with her. Although she said that she has always had a keen interest in women’s issues and gender politics, it never crossed Huda’s mind to work on front line issues, or at a grass roots level with women who suffer because of their gender and the system they live in. Our interview with this remarkable woman follows here:
Your contribution as a researcher has been mainly on gender issues – what motivated you to focus on this field?
I am technically a research coordinator rather than an actual researcher but have been intimately involved in the data collection for the project so far. Before joining Solace Women’s Aid I worked in the area of Middle East politics, Islam and international relations. Events in life and the course of my career brought me to work in the field of domestic violence which has been a real awakening for me. Although I have been very interested in issues of female representation and gender politics, it never crossed my mind to work on front line issues or at a grass roots level with women who suffer because of their gender and the system they live in rather than anything else. I think one of the reasons that I see a link between my previous roles and my current work with SWA is the need to give voice to those who are voiceless or hidden in society yet are most vulnerable. I think that along with the realisation and personal experience that being born a woman and working in a Western Society can put you at a real disadvantage motivated me to work in this field and come as close as possible to living by the values of equality and justice that I hold very dear.
As a professional what is your opinion about the integration of migrant women in UK?
I think integration is really important, it is only if you are part of society that you can truly benefit from it but also help and support others. Integration has some times been used to force or compel people to abandon central aspects of their identity or belief but I feel that is wrong. I think assimilation describes the latter rather than the word integration. I feel women in particular can face multiple barriers are migrants and need to work extra hard to ensure they have access to the same opportunities or chances in life as others.
You work for Solace Women’s Aid, a very well known organisation which works to help women who are affected by Domestic Violence. What is your perspective about DV related to migrant women?
Doing this research has revealed that domestic violence does not discriminate. It can affect all women at any time from any race and any background, any class or educational attainment. However, being a migrant woman you may face hidden obstacles and pressures on top of what is suffered by settled / British women experiencing domestic violence. Factors like language, immigration status, and cultural expectations as well as racism from wider society can make things more complicated and painful. It may also make gaining support and the right kind of advice more difficult.
Also you have a significant experience working for Forward Thinking with the aim to empower Muslim communities. What can you say about Muslim women integration in UK, what is the job that is done to empower Muslim women?
The issue of Musilm women has become a very contravercial subject politically. Women are used by mainstream British society and by certain parts of the Muslim communities as political footballs to accuse the other of prejudice and injustice. I feel that is a theme running throughout history in the way in which women are talked and discussed but never spoken to or asked their views/opinions on issues.
Muslim women in the UK come from many different cultures, linguistic, social, economic and educational backgrounds. We cannot generalise about their views and thoughts or lives just like it would be silly to make generalisations about Christian or Hindu women. But again labels are used politically to ascribe certain stereotypes, by the media and general society rather than to accurately describe an aspect of someone’s identity.
I have met many Muslim women and most of them don’t need empowering, but there are certainly some women in Muslim communities across the UK who have had a very negative experiences whether by their fellow community members or wider society. We need to work with such women and their communities in a respectful and non-judgemental way to meet their needs and secure their safety and sense of worth.
Everyone has a mission in life – what is your mission?
My mission is to learn more every day, to speak about injustice where ever it may be, bring a little sunshine to those who cannot see any light and to consume less…though the last one is proving very difficult! I aim to be a better human being every day.