Nexer Volunteering Days – Working towards greater representation of Muslim Women In Sport
2 minute read
Senior User Researcher Ibtisam Belola shares how she recently spent one of her Nexer volunteer days - appearing at The House of Commons presenting research on Muslim Women in Sport to an audience of parliamentarians, sporting and national governing bodies, academics and community organisations.
At Nexer we receive two volunteer days per year, which form part of the company’s commitment to meaningful Social Impact. These days allow the team to contribute to charitable causes and voluntary work, enabling us to build connections with our local communities and give back to society by working on issues we feel passionate about.
This year I spent one of my Nexer volunteer days at the House of Commons presenting research on Muslim Women in Sport to an audience of parliamentarians, sporting and national governing bodies, academics and community organisations.
As a trustee of Muslimah Sports Association (MSA) I oversaw the commissioning of an independent survey on the behaviour and attitudes of Muslim Women in England towards their participation in sports. We explored their motivations, sporting interests and barriers. I curated a summary report from the survey findings of which excerpts of my foreword have been used and distributed within press articles including this piece by the BBC.
Our event at The House of Commons was hosted by Sam Tarry MP for Ilford South who has been a great advocate and champion of MSA’s work in his local constituency. Several MPs and peers also spoke on the importance of diversity and inclusion in sport.
In my speech, I shared the findings from the survey and raised considerations for how we might create more opportunities and pathways from grassroots clubs to elite levels. And why it’s important to focus on this group, which has been severely impacted by Covid in terms of participation in fitness activities.
The impact of this event and our research has resulted in greater visibility of our charity and highlighted the lack of representation of Muslim women in sport through media coverage including Sky Sports News, BBC Sports News and BBC Radio London. Our work has been acknowledged and shared by sporting charities including Women In Sport and London Sport and we have been contacted by several national governing bodies for discussions on engagement with Muslim women and girls. Social media coverage has also led to several community organisations reaching out for guidance and support on how they can encourage more Muslim women in their local areas to take part in sports.
I started my journey into volunteering during Covid, which was a time to reflect on what mattered to me and I decided that I wanted to become involved in charity work. I joined MSA , a women-led sporting charity for women as I truly believe that sport can be a great conduit for greater social and cultural understanding. And with the rise in restrictions for Muslim females participating in sport abroad and the introduction of hijab bans in several European countries, this felt like a great opportunity to contribute towards sharing positive narratives of Muslim women by Muslim women.
We are working towards breaking barriers in competitive sports by challenging sporting bodies to ensure we’re all working towards creating greater diversity, inclusion and representation across women’s sports.