Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) inspired, motivated and empowered me: British Shadow Minister Naz Shah

LONDON (Monitoring Desk): Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) has motivated, inspired and empowered me to stand up as a British Muslim Woman, said the Shadow Minister for Women & Equalities Naz Shah as she stood up at the dispatch box to close the debate to mark the International Women’s Day in the House of Commons. 

Naz told the house that the only man who has inspired her to stand up as a British Muslim Woman is the one who was honoured by the US Supreme Court in 1935 as one of the greatest lawgivers of the world and that man is Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The MP from Bradford West said, “He (Prophet Muhammad [PBUH]) came to the world at a time when the most basic rights to women were being denied, and in a matter of years he transformed a society that degraded, chastised and murdered women to one that empowered them with not only the right to life, but to property, marriage, inheritance, voting, democratic, honour, dignity and rights to liberty”.

She told her fellow MPs that modern women like Mary Wollstonecraft, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks and Benazir Bhutto, as well as Oprah Winfrey who stood up for change and fought for equality in society, have not only inspired, motivated and enlightened the generations of women but are inspirational for men too.

Naz also shared that time of her life with fellow lawmakers when she was moving from one home to another with her teenage brother and sister, raising them in the absence of her mother. Thus began her journey into politics. 

“I was the daughter of a victim of domestic abuse who served 14 years in prison, and she went to prison because she could no longer handle the abuse and killed the partner who abused her.”

“When I talk about my story, I share with people a slide with literally two black bin liners, concerning my forced marriage, having to live in poverty or having experienced homelessness”, she further added.

Referring to this year’s theme for IWD, “Equal for Equal”. She further added that having two female prime ministers, women representation in cabinet and over 50% of Labour Party’s member of Parliament being female is a huge achievement but the fight must go own with women showing solidarity with women including from Black, Asians, and ethnic minorities (BAME) background.

Naz Shah criticised the attitude towards women of colour whether it be Princess Meghan Markle or Nadia Hussain, winner of “The Great British Back Off” or any other ordinary female of colour which has been targeted by hate mongers just because the way they look.

Concerning the Women & Equalities Committee’s report published in 2015 which highlighted the triple whammy faced by women of colour and Muslim reliefs, Naz Shah told the house that nothing has significantly changed since then.

Taking a dig at Prime Minister Boris Johnson over his derogatory remarks about hijab-wearing women in an article in 2018, she said, “Some women now feel their hijab should be removed for their safety, and others who choose to wear other garments have had the most powerful man in this country legitimise hate towards them by referring to their personal choices as making them look like letterboxes and bank robbers”.

As this year marks the 50th anniversary of Equal Pay Act 1970, Naz told the house that her party (Labour) if elected to power, will legislate to close the gender pay gap and make gender pay equality the state’s responsibility. She said that as of now, women were eating 23% less than men for the same work.

Addressing the rights of women at the workplace, Naz stated that her party will keep on campaigning for the rights of working women for flexible working hours, working from home and the introduction of a menopause workplace policy to break the stigma associated with the it.

She criticised the Tory government’s austerity measures which have effected mostly women. 85% of the burden of 10 years of austerity and cuts has disproportionately fallen on the shoulders of women.

She welcomed the Domestic Abuse Bill put forward by the Government, but added that more is needed to be done for women’s protection.

She called out her female colleagues to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with her to face misogynists, xenophobes, and Islamophobes who will be lurking and waiting to attack another woman of colour for speaking out.

She concluded her speech with these remarks, “My standing here today to make a closing statement on International Women’s Day tells us—this is the message that it brings home to me—that for my sisters and my daughters, and women in this country and beyond, there is hope”.