Leading female figures discuss future of Muslim sportswomen

A group of leading female figures met for the first time at West Ham United’s ground to discuss, praise and celebrate the presence of Muslim sportswomen at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Rimla Akhtar, Chair of the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation (MWSF), a UK-based charity specialising in increasing participation amongst black and minority ethnic women, particularly Muslims, opened the event, highlighting the importance of the contribution of these Olympians and welcomed the four members of the specially arranged panel for the evening: 

Faezeh Hashemi, President of the Islamic Federation for Women’s Sport, former member of Iranian parliament and daughter of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani 

Sahar El Hawary, a pioneer of women’s football in Egypt, member of the FIFA Women’s Committee and the first female member of the Egyptian Football Federation

Anum Bandey, a fifteen year old swimmer competing for Pakistan at the London 2012 Olympics 

Khadijah Safari, kickboxing instructor and winner of MWSF’s Coach of the Year Award

Held with the strong support of West Ham United’s Community Trust, the event saw four assorted panel guests, representing their various countries and sporting backgrounds, answering questions from the panel.

The panellists reflected how, despite their differing backgrounds, sport has provided a positive environment where they have achieved for themselves whilst also creating pathways for future women to follow.  

Their message has been that the focus should not continue to be on the barriers that these women face but how the light should shine on those Muslim sportswomen who are on the world stage, competing and demonstrating this theory in practice so that future generations can find their way as well.

Chief Executive of the MWSF, Ayesha Abdeen, stated: “The reception was a huge success. It was inspiring to have two great pioneers of women’s sport in Faezeh Hashemi and Sahar El Hawary side by side with a young aspiring Olympian in Anum Bandey and role model for UK Muslim women in Khadijah Safari.”