Visible Women

This is why feminism is so important to Muslim women

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Kayleigh Dray
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Faeeza Vaid has flawlessly explained how her religion motivates her to fight for women’s rights…

This year’s #March4Women was not just a celebration of all women have achieved – it was also a call to action for feminists today, with speeches from activists including Helen Pankhurst, Bianca Jagger, Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu and Bangladeshi labour rights campaigner Nazma Akter.

Perhaps one of the most powerful, though, was that delivered by Faeeza Vaid.

The executive director of the Muslim Women’s Network was welcomed on to the stage at Trafalgar Square by rally host Sue Perkins, who asked Vaid to sum up why she had decided to join the women’s march.

Cue an absolutely flawless and impassioned response from the famous activist.

“I’m still marching because so many experience discrimination and sexual violence because of their gender, their race, their religion, their age and their sexuality,” said Vaid.

“Because Muslim women in the UK are from some of the most socially and economically-deprived communities. Because forced marriage, honour-based violence and female genital mutilation happens to women in the UK. We know this because we get calls on the Muslim Women’s Network helpline. We also know that over 70% of migrant women are sexually assaulted in Europe when they arrive.

“All of this is not OK.”

Vaid continued: “It should not be a part of normal life, here or anywhere. So I guess I’m here because my religion motivates me to fight. It motivates me to fight for equality for justice and for peace.

“I’m here to help build on the legacy of the suffragettes, to build a movement that is inclusive of black feminists, of working-class feminists and of faith-inspired feminists. I’m simply saying either we fight for all, or we all fall. And looking around us today with all the women we’ve brought from Birmingham and Blackburn and other parts of the country, and all those women who can’t be with us today, I know I am looking at fighters. Fighters who are all saying time’s up – and that’s why we still march.”

As the crowd erupted into cheers and applause, a visibly moved Perkins said: “That was one of the most comprehensive answers I could have possibly had to my question.

“Thank you so much, that was incredible.”

It absolutely was.

To see all of the most inspirational, powerful and uplifting moments from CARE International’s annual #March4Women as it happened – check out our liveblog right here.

Image: iStock

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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