Tweeting on The Edge …
- Created on Monday, 11 February 2013
… in more ways than one
This was the first of our women’s events that I have attended. However, as I was not part of the target audience and all the best seats had been taken I was standing in the doorway, tweeting.
The benefit of social media for our work, mission if you like, is constantly on my mind. Is it a useful tool, or a distraction? Like most things it is a mixture of both. My own mission seems to be wrestling with this tension – so can our twitter feed help to write a short blog?
We always hope for good soundbites to tweet, especially sharing the words of participants which get our own message across. It was great to tweet this comment from Jessica Foster (@brummymummy3) of the Faithful Neighbourhood Centre – ‘#cometotheedge. We do events like this because other inter faith events don’t have women on the platform.’
There is still something unsettling about wrestling (again) with gender balance and equality. When you have a heavy weight on one end of a see-saw you can only begin to equalise it with a heavier weight or a stronger force, immediately creating an imbalance. Our experience is not yet completely balanced and fully inclusive. Equality is the ideal that we reach after rebalancing, or unbalancing, the status quo.
So our event was women-only until the awards ceremony when male friends, family members and colleagues came to recognise and support remarkable women of whom they were very proud. ‘#Remarkable’ was a frequently-used word yesterday. One of our remarkable women, an Anglican Priest from Leicester, was Revd Diane Johnson. She shared how her own inter faith journey, which led to her setting up the Leicester Christian-Muslim women’s dialogue group, was strongly influenced by her ‘encounters with remarkable Muslim women.’
One of our speakers, Rabiha Hannan, another award-winner, told us how ‘my mother showed me the true meaning of inter faith.’ Saadat Yusuf, one of our lifetime award winners, and co-ordinator of the Brixton-based Muslim Sisters Jamaat (a meeting and prayer space for women) shared her story from Nigeria. Nigeria is another place in need of balance, a place of tension and atrocities, as well as home to families which have Christian and Muslim members. Her remarkable story was of Christians rescuing Muslims in the middle of a riot. Finally, our own Wahida Shaffi, women’s programme lead and Forum member, acknowledged Nuzhat Ali (former dialogue worker, Bradford Cathedral) as her mentor since her schooldays.
Catriona Robertson (@multifaith), another lifetime award winner, talked passionately about ‘pressure on women to look 'right' but little pressure to be heard.’ Sometimes women’s clothing assumes a greater importance than women’s contributions on key issues of our day. So the celebration of #remarkable women was book-ended by reflections on how crucial a women’s initiative is: why, for the benefit of us all, men and women alike, we need to hear women’s voices. When voices are heard we can move on to constructive and change-making dialogue. This fitted well with our closing reminder from Nuzhat Ali at this #NearNeighbours event - 'why do we do things for our neighbours? This is how we change the world, this is what God wants, helping each other to do good.’
The Christian Muslim Forum, as part of its #cometotheedge initiative gave outstanding and lifetime inter faith awards to these women from the #nearneighbous areas:
- Leicester: Rabiha Hannan, Diane Johnson
- Bradford: Nuzhat Ali, Barbara Glasson
- Birmingham: Saraya Hussain, Natasha Griffith
- London: Tasneem Husain, Catriona Robertson, Saadat Yusuf
- Burnley: Samina Ali, Bea Foster, Kath Bill