Over a third of Muslim women not involved in sports despite interest - report
There are high levels of interest amongst British Muslim women in England to participate in sports but over a third are not involved in any sports or activities.
According to a report by the Muslimah Sports Association (MSA), 97% of British Muslim women surveyed wanted to increase their participation in sports. But it also revealed that 37% of these women are not involved in any sporting activity
The report found several barriers to participation in sports, such as cultural barriers, the lack of women-only spaces or facilities, the lack of modest sports attire and the potential of encountering discrimination.
The report adds that sports participation helped break down stereotypes and misconceptions about Muslim women and points to those who have overcome these obstacles to contribute significantly to various sports.
Yashmin Harun, chair and founder of MSA, said she hopes the report would “provoke thought, action, and further collaboration in helping ethnically diverse females to go, not only beyond the challenges that face them, but thrive despite of them.”
“MSA is proud to engage females in sports and to challenge the sector in how they engage with our community,” she added.
The report found:
- 97% want to increase their participation in sports
- 82% want to increase involvement for health/fitness reasons
- 80% would be likely to attend women’s only sports sessions if they were available
- 43% said current sports facilities are not right for them
- 33% describe their current fitness activity level as “Inactive”
- 33% said past experiences negatively affected their participation
The lack of women-only spaces is the predominant barrier preventing women from taking part in sports. When surveyed, 65% of women reported not being aware of any women's-only events, showing a need for more such spaces to be created.
"Coming to a women's-only swimming session and being told there were male lifeguards - that defeats the whole purpose,” said one woman taking part in the report.
The report emphasises that Muslim women are not a homogenous group and come from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, each interpreting their religious beliefs differently.
It added: “Women only sessions is a predominant and recurring theme in our findings but is not a solution in of itself; as highlighted by some of the quotes around male lifeguards at women-only swimming sessions.
"There is much nuance to unpicking what a 'comfortable environment' means to Muslim women and scope to create some principles around this to develop a greater understanding of this for the sector as a whole."
It also suggested initiatives to address unconscious bias against Muslim women, community engagement to tackle misconceptions and cultural attitudes, and modest attire to support career opportunities in sports for Muslim women.
Image: Muslimah Sports Association twitter
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