LONDON – A new report by the British parliament has warned that Muslim women are the most economically disadvantaged group in British society, adding that they are three times more likely to be unemployed and looking for a job than women generally.
“The impact of Islamophobia on Muslim women should not be underestimated,” the Women and Equalities Committee said in a report before the House of Commons, BBC reported on Thursday, August 11.
“They are 71% more likely than white Christian women to be unemployed, even when they have the same educational level and language skills.”
The committee added that they are three times more likely to be unemployed and looking for a job than women generally and more than twice as likely to be economically inactive.
The MPs report also warned that Muslim women in Britain face a “triple penalty” impacting on their job prospects: being women, being from an ethnic minority and being Muslim.
They face particular issues of discrimination when applying for jobs because of the clothes some of them they wear because of their religion or culture, the MPs suggest.
While 69% of British working-age women were in employment, among Muslim women it was 35%.
Nationally, 5% of women were unemployed and seeking work but among Muslim women it was 16%.
“The impact of the very real inequality, discrimination and Islamophobia that Muslim women experience is exacerbated by the pressures that some women feel from parts of their communities to fulfil a more traditional role,” the committee said.
“The Equality Act applies to everyone and all women, regardless of faith, should be free to make their own choices about all aspects of their lives, including education, employment and dress, and subsequently be empowered to overcome the disadvantages they may face,” the report concludes.
Suggesting solutions, lawmakers urged a new ‘name-blind’ application to bar employers from asking people’s names when they first apply for jobs to reverse a huge toll of unemployed British Muslims.
Ex-PM David Cameron condemned “disgraceful” discrimination against non-white names last year as he rolled out a ‘name-blind’ process in top civil service jobs.
“People with white-sounding names are nearly twice as likely to get call backs for jobs than people with ethnic-sounding names,” Cameron said.
“One young black girl had to change her name to Elizabeth before she got any calls to interviews.
“That, in 21st century Britain, is disgraceful.”
Today the committee went further, saying: “The Government should roll out name-blind recruitment to all employers, legislating if necessary.”
It said name-blind recruitment was only one step among many, adding: “To be fully effective this should form part of a sustained initiative which profiles those employers which have successfully implemented the policy in order to incentivize others to follow suit.
“The Government should monitor uptake and legislate if progress is not made within this parliament.”
Maria Miller, who chairs the Women and Equalities Committee, said: “We heard evidence that stereotypical views of Muslim women can act as a barrier to work.”
“The data suggests that in communities these patterns are shifting across generations, but we remain concerned that this shift is happening too slowly and that not all Muslim women are being treated equally.”