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Being A Canadian Muslim Woman In The 21st Century

In the 20th century and post-911 context, the experiences of Muslim youth; specifically Muslim schools girls have transformed dramatically.  Faced with a series of pressures many are left with the overarching challenges of cultivating a multi-faceted identity, engaging in civic participation and overcoming widely held experiences of racism/anti-Muslim discrimination and economic inequality.

Many of these young women are the children of recent immigrants who are grappling with the obstacles of adapting to a new culture and way of life. Two events demonstrated the need for a project which encouraged educators to actively engage in this matter and which empowered young Muslim women to navigate these concerns. The first included the tragic Toronto based murder and femicide of Aqsa Parvez by her father and the second included the sexual abuse of a female Muslim student at a Toronto high school.  As schools play a vital role in helping youth develop, CCMW believed that they served as the ideal setting for a project that brought together young Muslim women and reached out to educators.

Funded by the Status of Women Canada, our two year project which ran from 2009-2011 had two primary objectives:

  1. To increase the understanding on the part of the education system of the issues/challenges facing young Muslim girls/women (ages 14 18) and to develop resources which can be used by educators
  2. To Empower young Muslim girls/women and their peers to understand and face these challenges and to provide young girls with the skills to act as leaders within their schools and their communities

Through the course of our project, CCMW had the opportunity of running focus groups where we spoke to young Muslim girls across the province of Ontario to hear about their lived experiences. Working with 7 schools, Muslim girls developed leadership skills and Committees which carried out activities aimed at raising awareness of the issues/challenges young Muslim women face in the education system. With the help of Dr. Jasmin Zine and Dr. Zabedia Nazim an educational resource kit was developed for educators. The kit provides accurate, sympathetic and culturally appropriate information for educators concerning the context and realities that young Muslim women face in the education system including discrimination and marginalization. We encourage educators from Muslim and non-Muslim backgrounds to circulate this toolkit. Information and downloads for this toolkit can be found here.