By Zoë Crowther, Students’ Union Correspondent
Bristol SU and Nisa-Nashim, a Jewish and Muslim Women’s Network, joined together to hold the first ever Gender and Faith Conference in the UK.
Sally Patterson, Equality, Liberation and Access Officer at Bristol SU, worked with Saha Habib, recent UCL graduate, to organise the event. The conference, held at Bristol University, brought together thirty young women with experience of leadership roles within the two religious communities.
Lighting the Jewish Chanukah Menorah / Ciara Flint
The aim of the event was to highlight the similar problems faced by both groups and explore ways to overcome polarisation and prejudice on campus. Islamophobia and anti-Semitism were discussed, as well as halal and kosher food options and the portrayal of women of faith in the media.
Keynote speakers included journalist Remona Aly, Nisa-Nisham co-founders Laura Marks OBE and Julie Siddiqi, Rachel Vogler from Jewish Women’s Aid. Nasra Ayub, Education Officer at Bristol SU and an outreach worker for Integrate UK, also spoke at the conference, alongside other student leaders.
Laura Marks OBE and Julie Siddiqi said of the event: ‘These leaders of the future showed that by working on common causes, maybe we really can heal the so often seen divisions between Jews and Muslims. We need more of this work.’
Patterson described the conference as an important part of the wider agenda for ‘a kinder, more inclusive, positive future’, and attendee Misbah Rehman said: ‘As a woman of Muslim identity this event has been very inspiring in encouraging Muslim Jewish integration within our communities. It’s also uplifting knowing that there are resources to help our communities in fighting Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.’
Featured Image: Ciara Flint