Why this filmmaker is putting Muslim women on mainstream television

We don’t often hear Muslim voices in mainstream media.

Women Like Us is the TV show trying to change that as it celebrates the contributions of British Muslim women. The all-female panel features prominent British Muslims from various ethnic backgrounds and industries. Activists, writers, journalists and other trailblazers such as the first Muslim president of the NUS (National Union of Students), Malia Bouattia, make up the panel. They discuss topics including sex, periods, racism within the Muslim community, impossible beauty standards, sectarianism, Islam and critical thinking, and British Muslim identity. We caught up with the creator of the show Ayman Khwaja to talk about why shows like this are important.

So, how did you come up with the idea of Women Like Us?

Out of frustration, really. I was tired of all Muslim women being represented as one, homogenous group in the media. Muslim women are so often ‘discussed’ but hardly ever the ones doing the discussing! It’s essential that we create spaces in which we can not only contribute to the discussion but lead it. And it’s happening across the country. Seeing initiatives like Amaliah fills me with hope because I see young Muslim women carving out a space for themselves, not waiting in the wings to be granted a millisecond of a spotlight.

How did you choose the regulars?

I wanted to provide a platform for Muslim women leading in their respective fields and to illustrate the ethnic diversity within the Muslim community. Once I had determined that core purpose for the show, choosing the regulars was easy. There is no shortage of brilliant British Muslim women – I only wish we had the capacity to create more episodes to invite more women! I hope we will in the future. Of our current regulars: Malia Bouattia is an activist, who came to Britain from Algeria as a refugee and has since served as the President of the NUS; Aina Khan is a journalist and budding playwright – of Pakistani-Pathan descent – who grew up in Bradford; and Sakinah Le Noir is a musician of Caribbean heritage, who has recently launched a fantastic project entitled Black and Muslim in Britain.

 

Faima Bakar

 

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Muslim World Today.


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