MW Sports Interview Series Begin With Prof Homa Hoodfar

MW Sports is honored to begin the new project, "MW Sports Interview Series" with Prof. Homa Hoodfar
Who is Homa Hoodfar? Prof Hoodfar is an anthropology professor at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada and is the coordinator of the Iran Module of the Women and Law programme of Women Living Under Muslim Laws Network.Hoodfar has conducted field research on development and social change issues in Egypt and Iran, with an emphasis on gender, households, work and international migration in the Middle East. Further key research areas are women and Islam, and codification of Muslim family laws in the Middle East, Muslim dress code in diaspora, and the impact of long term forced migration on family structure and gender relations on Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan. She is an activist feminist and a prominent anthropologist working on issues related to empowerment of women in Muslim world, with geographic focus on Iran, Afghanistan and Egypt. 
  • MW Sports: Prof. Hoodfar, Thank you for joining this interview project. It is very precious to begin our interview series with you, as you are the pioneering mentor of MW Sports Blog. How have you become interested in Sports in the lives of Muslim women? Why sports?
  • MW Sports: Is your interest related to your feminist concerns regarding the empowerment of women in the Middle East?
  • MW Sports: Iranian women started becoming very active in sports. Their participation is particularly influencing the success of their country in international games as well. How do you explain the interest?
  • MW Sports: You have organized a symposium three years ago in Montreal, during which we first worked together. It was very welcomed by Western public. Why have you decided to organize a conference focusing specifically on Muslim women in sports? Have you achieved your goals?
  • MW Sports: What are your future plans?
This first interview is also submitted to Dr Sara Shneiderman, as visual anthropology project for my PhD program in social anthropology at the University of Cambridge - Sertaç Sehlikoglu.

The Short biography of Prof Hoodfar is taken from http://www.muslimreviewonline.net/wiki/index.php?title=Category:Hoodfar,_Homa 


Turkish Female Cirit Players are Seeking for Support

The women of the Uşak Women’s Equestrian Sports Club’s cirit team are training regularly for the coming Spring Festival in Uşak’s Ulubey district. As the only women's cirit team in Turkey, they are facing with several challenges, may of which are related to financial issues. Coach Aysun Yilmaz says that her team members have to borrow horses from their friends for the training. She adds that they are hopeful to find another female cirit team to compete against one day, as they can only compete with male cirit teams, since they are the single female group interested in this traditional sport in Turkey. The team consists of women, aged from 20 to 30, who have learned this sport from their families when they were very young. They say that they feel liberated while riding horse. 

Turkish Young Female Wrestlers are Competing in Izmir

124 athletes from 22 different cities of Turkey will be competing in 10 divisions of wrestling. Maximum number of athletes attended the game was from Izmir, partly because of the limited funding for transportation from other cities for the championship. The champions will be announced today, after the final games. 

Muslim Women in SPORTS Launches its Logo


Multiple voices: improving participation of Muslim girls in physical education and school sport

Authors: Symeon Dagkasa; Tansin Benna; Haifaa Jawadb


This study reports on data from a larger-scale research project in one city in the West Midlands, England. The study was commissioned by the local education authority because of the rising incidence of parental withdrawal of Muslim girls from physical education. The aim was to provide evidence-based guidance to schools on improving the inclusion of Muslim girls in physical education and school sport. In-depth interviews in eight case study schools provided a thick description of the lived realities for 19 head teachers and teachers, 109 young people and 32 of their parents. Four additional focus group interviews were held with 36 Muslim young people in community/supplementary schools. Questionnaires were sent to 402 city schools and 12 supplementary schools (50 of which were returned). Methods focused on capturing views on experiences and concerns regarding the inclusion of Muslim girls in physical education. Content analysis and inductive and deductive analyses of data procedures were used. Responses indicated a diversity of positive and negative experiences across the community, with the majority of young people enjoying their school-based physical education lessons. Parental influences were strong across the age phases. Body and religious consciousness increased during adolescence. Common concerns centred on the need to improve recognition of religious requirements in schooling processes, policies and practices to provide inclusive learning environments for some Muslim young people. Problems such as poor communication, inflexible dress codes—particularly concerning wearing of the hijab (headscarf)—gender organisation and use of public swimming pools were identified. Patterns of good practice also emerged from across schools. Flexibility of approach, shared decision-making and situation-specific policies were most successful for supporting the inclusion of Muslim girls in physical education and school sport. Findings informed policy-orientated guidance for city schools.
Keywords: Muslim girls; Islam; Physical education; Religiosity; Culture
Affiliations: a School of Education, University of Birmingham, Birminghom, UK
b School of Philosopy, Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
Published in: Sport, Education and Society, Volume 16, Issue March 2011 , pages 223 - 239
Full Article on: 


El Moutawakel: Middle East female athletes will come to the fore

Nawal El Moutawakel
Olympic 400m hurdle champion Nawal El Moutawakel believes female athletes in the Middle East have a bright future.
Moroccan El Moutawakel became a household name in 1984 when she won gold at the Los Angeles games, the first African-born Muslim woman to do so.
She picked up the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Laureus ceremony 12 months ago, and was convinced to join the Academy when confronted by the list of fellow members that she still considers to be “heroes”.
After watching Saudi Arabia’s Dalma Rushdi H Malhas scoop Equestrian bronze at the Youth Summer Games in Singapore last year, she believes this region will soon produce another Ghada Shouaa, the heptathlete who won gold for Syria at the 1995 World Championships.
“To see a young girl from Saudi Arabia on the podium in Equestrian, was phenomenal to us, to me,” she said.
“I was in there watching it, I started crying and broke into tears because for me it was a very special moment to see a powerful woman coming from the Gulf states to say ‘hey, I can win’.
“The future of this region is feminine. We have seen women reaching all kinds of levels in administration, as a minister, even pilot, lawyer, judges and everything. And we will see women becoming Olympic champions and world champions.
“Success can be achieved. More and more there is a strong participation of women from this region maybe it’s still shy but there is a presence.”
The former athlete was still a student when she shot to fame in Los Angeles, so she knows more than most the life-changing affects sport can have.
“A couple of years ago I was just a tiny, shy little girl from Morocco who wanted to run but I never knew I could perform one day and here I am enjoying the benefits that were given to me by sport,” she added.
“Sport has a great impact on any kind of humankind. It impacts your life for… life, forever.”


Increasing the focus on minority ethnic women and girls' sport - UK

Rimla Akhtar, Chairperson of the Muslim Women's Sport Foundation on the challenges and achievements of her organisation.
Sport is and always has been a powerful means of uniting people and overcoming prejudices, particularly those against minority communities. It can come in many forms and not just the traditional ones. Women's sport has seen a massive development over the years and women and girls across the country are embracing less traditional sports and activities such as dance, basketball and yoga.
The Muslim Women's Sport Foundation (MWSF) was set up in 2001 with the main aim of providing equal opportunities and access to sport for Muslim women who are severely underrepresented across the board when it comes to sport.
Rimla Akhtar with Hugh Robertson receiving the Kick It Out Grassroots award on 14 December 2010
Rimla Akhtar was recently presented with the Kick it Out Grassroots award. 
The organisation also forms the British Muslim Women's Squad for the Women's Islamic Games which are held in Tehran every four years in an Olympics style tournament. I joined the futsal team in 2001, playing in the Games that year and then had the honour of captaining the team in 2005. When we returned from the Games in 2005, my friend and vice captain Ayesha Abdeen and I became Chair and Vice Chair of the MWSF, respectively. Over the past five years we've worked to increase the accessibility of sports facilities and opportunities to play and compete. More recently we've focused on sports education through providing coaching and refereeing courses and reaching out to schools to provide their girls with a positive experience of sport.

Addressing under-representation head on

Through working closely with National Governing Bodies for sports and with other sporting organisations, such as Sporting Equals, we've been able to help increase the focus on minority ethnic women and girls' sport.
The work we do is not just for Muslim women but for all women, girls and men from ethnic minority communities. By realising the unique needs of people from these communities, there are great opportunities to refresh the sporting strategies for participation and to generate success in the long term whilst also bringing energy, creativity and dynamism to the way the strategies are implemented.
You can read the rest of the post from Rimla Akhtar's blog: http://blogs.culture.gov.uk/main/2011/01/post_6.html