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Balance For Better

“Balance for better” with its drive for social equality is this year’s robust message for International Women’s Day which will echo around the globe today (8 March). 

And that echo will be heard in several countries where Muslim Aid works with women, including Somalia where it is teaming up with the Puntland Ministry for women’s development and family affairs in a campaign to raise awareness on gender equality and women’s rights.

In addition, Muslim Aid’s Lotifa Begum, who heads global advocacy, will be present at the UN headquarters in New York to attend the annual Commission on the Status of Women, which runs 11-18 March and hammers out key priorities to advance women’s rights globally.

But watch the sidelines at the UN meeting. Muslim Aid in partnership with the Side by Side Network, a Christian movement tackling gender based violence, Islamic Relief Worldwide and UNFPA are hosting an event on 'Overcoming Cultural Barriers facing Women & Girls Around the World.' 

The talking point is social protection, public services and sustainable infrastructure. These three aspects are central to the successful implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which Muslim Aid has been working towards to promote gender equality. 

“There’s no escaping that gender violence touches on the Balance for Better theme, and is a vital debate to understand and push women’s rights and equality forward particularly in places like Somalia,” said Lotifa.

“My keynote message is that you have to bring the voices of the communities most affected by gender inequality to policy making forums like the UN to bring about transformational change,” added Lotifa. “And we can also learn from work on the ground in countries like Somalia and other countries where we work.”

Muslim Aid which is a signatory to the path-breaking Islamic gender justice declaration, which calls for action from Muslim leaders and communities to uphold the rights of women and girls according to faith-based teachings, works with women in  north-eastern Somalia.

Muslim Aid in partnership with UNFPA runs a one-stop referral centre named Maatokaal, that means helping the vulnerable. The project was sensitively named to avoid the women using the facilities facing any stigma linked to gender-based violence.

The programme has supported more than 1000 women who are survivors of gender based violence with medical, psychosocial support as well as dignity kits to overcome deep cultural practices, and legal aid to help bring the perpetrators to justice under newly enacted sexual offenses laws. 

Cultural barriers and social stigmatisation are difficult to overcome. Women all too often lack access to education and political representation. Few participate in the legislative process in countries which often lack laws and enforcement on gender rights.

“The role of faith leaders in advocating for women and girls rights under Islamic law is vital in countries like Somalia and is key to bring about the needed change in the attitudes toward women,” said Lotifa.

Muslim Aid is working to ensure the inclusion of women and girls in education, livelihoods, maternal healthcare, access to water and sanitation and in tackling gender based violence in a range of countries from Pakistan to Bangladesh, Sudan to Myanmar.

“I’d like to come away from New York thinking effective policies and frameworks have been thought through by both those affected on the ground and governments to ensure a more balanced world for women and girls,” said Lotifa. “It’s a huge task and challenge but it can be done if the political will is there.”

Muslim Aid is also partnering the Muslim Council of Britain on Sunday 31st March for the Muslim Women's Conference at the University College London, a day-long programme with a series of workshops to tackle gender inequality faced by Muslim women.

You can sign up and attend by booking your ticket here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/mcb-womens-conference-tickets-54062955756.

 

 

  • 4 Mar 2019 update Visit My Mosque

    Muslim Aid was one of the key partners with the Visit My Mosque campaign on Sunday, when around 250 mosques across the country opened their doors to people of all faiths to build and strengthen bonds across communities.  Muslim Aid staff and volunteers were present in town and city mosques around the UK along with representatives of the mosques and other Muslim organisations.

    “We are very proud to embrace this initiative, which has forged greater understanding between neighbouring communities across the country since its inception.”, said Muslim Aid Chief Executive Jehangir Malik OBE. 

    Visit My Mosque

    “Our participation has enabled us to tell our neighbours about the generosity of Muslim people to charitable causes both at home and abroad.”

    The holy month of Ramadan is now around the corner. It is a big time of giving by the Muslim community. It is estimated that some £100 million is raised in the month of Ramadan for charitable causes. (This year Muslim Aid will focus on targeting funds where the “need is greatest.”)

    Organised by the Muslim Council of Britain, Visit My Mosque was launched with eager volunteers sweeping up litter in an early spring clean of areas of London, partnered by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy. Celebrating its fifth year, other sponsors include the AZIZ Foundation and Penny Appeal.

    The locations where Muslim Aid had a presence included the Birmingham Central Mosque, Carshalton Mosque, Cheadle Mosque, and Leeds Grand Mosque as well as Finsbury Park Mosque, Havering Mosque, and the Morden Islamic Centre.  In some Muslim Aid staff ran stalls and in others they addressed the gatherings.  Some mosques put on guided tours or exhibitions around Islam, served food, or showed recent charity events undertaken.

    ‘Visit my mosque provides the Muslim community with an opportunity to start conversations and develop relationships,” said Altaf Kazi, Muslim Aid’s Head of UK Programmes. “Having taken part in the last three, I developed new friendships and an appreciation of what the diversity of our community looks like.”

    Visit my mosque has attracted increasing numbers of curious non-Muslim British people over the years and been supported with visits of high profile politicians.   This year, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott MP visited Finsbury Park mosque along with Harun Khan of the Muslim Council of Britain. The campaign has come a long way since 2015 when the first 20 mosques took part. But poll figures last year showed 90% of Britons had never visited a mosque.

    For interviews, photos or more information, please contact Eileen Maybin at eileen.maybin@muslimaid.org or on 07932 088111

    Visit My Mosque
    • Visit My Mosque
    • Visit My Mosque
    • Visit My Mosque
  • 19 Oct 2018 update Muslim Aid renews its safeguarding commitments

    18 October 2018 

    Muslim Aid pledges to safeguarding commitments at DFID hosted international summit to tackle sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment in the aid sector   

    Muslim Aid today renewed its pledge to protect the vulnerable people it supports, their wider communities and any vulnerable staff members. 

    The Department of International Development’s safeguarding summit today was an opportunity for Muslim Aid to focus on its commitment to safeguarding and determination to fight abuse and exploitation in the international aid sector.  

    In the wake of the international charity safeguarding crisis which blew up in February 2018, the Charity Commission and safeguarding experts pledged to improve safeguarding standards across the sector.  

    DFID reached out to Muslim Aid as part of a sector wide process to provide information on a number of safeguarding issues it had dealt with over the years. Chief Executive Officer Jehangir Malik OBE attended a previous safeguarding summit on 5 March 2018, which led to today’s official commitments.  

    Muslim Aid is one of the 400 members of Bond, the UK membership body for non-governmental organisations working in international development. Since the Oxfam aid scandal, Bond’s members have worked to improve their safeguarding policies and practices, modelled on the best examples from the aid and the UK domestic sector.

    Along with fellow Bond members, Muslim Aid is focusing on the safety and wellbeing of children and adults, especially in vulnerable situations. Muslim Aid will not tolerate sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment and will put the voices, rights and safety of whistle-blowers, victims and survivors first.  

    Muslim Aid is engaged and committed to safeguarding the vulnerable. We have: 

    • Joined with 31 other organisations to sign a joint letter of commitment to improve safeguarding. 
    • Using our existing systems and procedures for safeguarding, we compiled details of all cases which had been reported to Muslim Aid since 2010. Details of 122 cases were sent to DFID, of which two came under the sexual exploitation and abuse category.   
    • Imtiaz Mohammed, Muslim Aid’s Director of International Programmes, has engaged in the working groups around these commitments, organised by BOND.  
    • Muslim Aid is now in the process of hiring a Safeguarding Advisor and Safeguarding Officer.  

    The details announced today is the result of this work, which demonstrates how the NGO sector will drive forwards consistency and leadership on safeguarding. 

    The 12 commitments demonstrate that the sector is serious about improving the quality and consistency of its safeguarding practice.

    The details of the 12 commitments can be found here

  • 15 Oct 2018 update Indonesia: Eye Witness Account

    ‘They gathered together, praying for those who’d just been pulled from the rubble.’

    Muslim Aid’s Madiha Raza has just returned from the Palu city on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, epicentre of the recent tsunami, where she spent time with local people and saw how their faith inspires their resilience. 

    ‘I was on an aid mission in Syria on September 28th when the 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck the island of Sulawesi. Reports of entire villages being flattened, followed by the terrifying 18 foot high waves flooded in. I knew I had to get there and see how we could assist. I’ve worked in a number of disaster zones, including Iraq, but was nervous about what I was going to witness.

    “Just a few days later I got off the plane in Palu, one of the epicentres of the quake. As we drove through the city, the scenes were devastating. Entire sections of the city had been flattened, like a steam roller had run right over them. We stopped next to what looked like a huge rubbish tip with mounds of crushed houses. I walked through broken streets, wondering what people had been doing in their homes when the earthquake struck, and they had to run with their children for their lives.  All around me I saw shreds of ordinary family life…… torn school books, broken cooking utensils, toys, and rags of clothes. I wondered what became of these people.

    “I looked up and saw some military men carrying a body bag past me, the smell was unbearable and the reality that hundreds of people must be trapped under the mud and rubble still was all too real. 

    “Our team drove to the village of Balaroa, which had been destroyed by the tsunami. When we arrived, it was like an apocalypse: entire houses had been swallowed up by the ground, there was masses of debris everywhere.  Locals gathered together, praying for those who’d just been pulled from the rubble. Further on, I saw people searching through rubble where their homes had stood, trying to recover anything that left. A young couple, 29 year old Hilda and Rahim, 30, told me ‘We were terrified when the earthquake struck and fled from our house. We have lost our parents and a sister, and now we’re looking for anything we can salvage [from the rubble].’ 

    “That night, we camped next to the house of a local family, who said they were too scared to sleep inside their home, and shared their yard with us. It was a difficult night, and a reminder that all those we were serving would be living in these conditions for months to come, without proper shelter, sanitation facilities or food.

    “The next day we headed to our food distribution in a displaced peoples’ camp in Donggala district. Muslim Aid distributed food packs of rice, oil, chickpeas and sardines as well as cartons of long life milk.  Muslim Aid is also distributing clean drinking water, temporary shelters, hygiene kits, and installing latrines. We had an opportunity to play with the children in the camp who seemed happy to be distracted from the difficulties they’d been through. Their endearing laughs and smiles illustrated their resilience. We met Lewi Kai, 44, who was desperately hoping for news of his wife, who had been working in a restaurant destroyed by the quake. ‘I have a 21 year old son, and I told him to pray. What else can we do?’

    “Muslim Aid has been working in Indonesia since 2004, we are specialists in Disaster Risk Management and are supporting great national partner NGOs on the ground. We will continue working in Indonesia, supporting communities in need and I’m proud we have been able to respond so quickly to this disaster. 

    “The tsunami death toll has now climbed to over 2,000, with another 10,600 injured. Around 5,000 people are still reported missing, and an estimated 75,400 have been internally displaced.

    “Though I’ve travelled to various conflict and natural disaster zones previously, what struck me most about this situation was how accepting people were of their fate. I was taken aback by how calm and collected the survivors appeared, despite so many of them having lost numerous members of their families, their homes and their entire livelihoods. It seemed their faith had a huge part to play, many told me, ‘everything that happens comes from God, and we thank him that we are alive at least’.  Their words, composure and positivity was a lesson I leant, and will never forget. If you look closely enough, you can find the stars shining even on the darkest nights. “

    Please help us to support these people in desperate need. Donate today www.muslimaid.org

    Indonesia: Eye Witness Account
    • Indonesia: Eye Witness Account
    • Indonesia: Eye Witness Account
    • Indonesia: Eye Witness Account
    • Indonesia: Eye Witness Account
  • 10 Oct 2018 update INDONESIA EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI

    Muslim Aid’s Fadlullah Wilmot and Sahedul Islam have just returned from Palu to the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, where they continue supporting Muslim Aid’s national partner, YKMI (The Indonesian Muslim Humanitarian Foundation) and another local NGO, PKPU, to distribute life-saving food parcels and water to some of the most difficult to reach communities affected by the quake.

    The water purification system is used to provide clean drinking water to internally displaced communities in the three affected districts of Palu, Donggala and Sigi. The system provides displaced adults and children access to 3 gallons of filtered water per minute or 14,400 litres per day, reducing chances of water-borne diseases amongst the densely packed communities living in tents and under tarpaulins.

    ‘We are very proud to have supported this initial emergency distribution through our national partner, so quickly’ says Wilmot, who is Muslim Aid’s temporary Indonesia Head of Mission. ‘This is the initial phase of our emergency response. We are looking at how to support some of the around 350,000 people whose homes and livelihoods have been destroyed over the longer term’ he adds. ‘People currently staying with relatives or friends need to rebuild their lives and homes."  In addition, transitional shelters will be provided, so that the affected people can live in dignity while rebuilding their homes and livelihoods.

    When Wilmot, who worked with Muslim Aid during the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and earthquake as well as the Yogyakara earthquakes in 2006, first arrived in Donggala and Palu, he saw ruined houses lining the shore and entire villages destroyed. He was in the disaster area providing support to local partners, and witnessed several aftershocks that saw people running ‘helter skelter’ to escape. The quake death toll has now climbed to almost 2,000, with around 1,000 people reported missing and another 10,600 injured. The latest figure of internally displaced is 75,400.

    Asif Sherazi, Muslim Aid’s Global Head of Humanitarian Programmes, emphasises Muslim Aid’s commitment to supporting Indonesians through its national partner. ‘Our country office will do everything possible to support, through our national and local partners, those who urgently need food, water, medicines, clothing, soap and other hygiene products’ he says.

    Indonesia was the first country in the world to enact legislation enshrining in law the right of citizens to be protected from natural disasters and to be provided with support and relief afterwards. The national disaster agency, and the Indonesian Red Cross, sprang into action after the recent disaster and Muslim Aid is coordinating its response through YKMI.

    Muslim Aid is specialised in disaster recovery and disaster risk reduction and has been working in Indonesia for more than 14 years, originally directly and now through YKMI.     

    INDONESIA EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI
    • INDONESIA EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI
  • 1 Oct 2018 update Indonesia Tsunami

    Muslim Aid's Fadlullah Wilmot and Sahedul Islam have flown to Sulawesi, Indonesia to assess the damage caused by the tsunami which struck the island on Friday 29 September.

    Over 844 are reported dead and thousands are predicted to be injured. The tsunami was triggered by a magnitude 7.4 earthquake and resulted in 20 foot high waves crashing onto the coast destroying thousands of homes and causing devastation all around.

    Fadullulah Wilmot and Sahedul Islam have only recently returned from the island of Lombok, Indonesia where they were at the sharp end of earthquake chaos. They are now en route to Palu on the island of Sulawesi to assess the needs of people caught up in the tsunami and to plan the response work.

    “I don’t have words for what the people of Indonesia have suffered since the series of earthquakes hit Lombok this Summer,” says Wilmot, who is Muslim Aid’s temporary Indonesia Head of Mission, as he boarded the plane the day after the disaster struck.

    “We were on the scene immediately after the quakes in August, but I didn’t expect to be returning to Indonesia so soon for another emergency, and one so terrifying.”

    In Lombok Muslim Aid immediately provided tarpaulins, mats and blankets for people made  homeless by the quakes as well as food, water, nappies and sanitary towels. They are continuing to support the communities by building temporary shelters.

    Wilmot continues: “In Sulawesi Muslim Aid’s partner on the ground will now immediately assess needs for the most vulnerable people hit by the tsunami. We will do everything we can to support them.” 

     Indonesia Tsunami
    •  Indonesia Tsunami