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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 13 Aug 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Inspiring Stories of Poor Indian Muslim Girls

New Age Islam News Bureau

13 Aug 2018

A Sheedi woman Tanzeela Qambrani became Pakistan’s first-ever Sindhi women to be the part of the provincial legislature



 Tanzeela Qambrani, First Sindhi Sheedi Woman MPA in Pakistan

 The Woman Leading the Way for Rohingya at a Bangladesh Camp

 Iranian Female Photographer Defies Football Match Restrictions

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Inspiring Stories of Poor Indian Muslim Girls


Afreen takes pride in her identity as a Muslim, she is good at English. Works as an Optometrist in a private hospital and teaches Optometry students in Aligarh.

10 years ago, her father, who does odd jobs as a labourer, migrated to Aligarh from Araria in Bihar along with the entire family in search of better living. The family used to live in an empty plot in Sir Syed Nagar neighbourhood close to Aligarh Muslim University.

Afreen was always eager to study. Some neighbours informed about her talent to Delhi-based NGO India Wisdom Foundation (IWF).

IWF helped her to pass Class 10, 12, diploma in Optometry and finally B.Sc in Optometry. The sustained financial and moral support helped her become an independent earning member of the family of labourers.

“When I teach my students at the hospital, I feel I can do even better. I have travelled a long way but I have to do more,” says Afreen while addressing a gathering of students and teachers from AMU.

Afreen was speaking at the annual scholarship distribution of IWF on Sunday. She was invited to tell her story to the students who are fighting all odds to achieve good education.

Afreen says, “I had many problems in life. We had no space to live. Going to school was a privilege. But I believe if you want to do something good then people do join you.”

Afreen is not alone. She is joined by another girl Sana Mahfooz who is studying Bachelor of Architecture from Jamia Millia Islamia. She got 3000 rank in the all India combined engineering exam this year.

Sana says, “I did not do any coaching and qualified the entrance exam in my first attempt.”

“I tried to cut my sleep, focus on my studies and almost gave up social life. I thank IWF mainly for the moral support apart of the financial help.”


Sana belongs to Balia and her family migrated to Aligarh in search of better job. Her father has a makeshift grocery shop in Aligarh. Now her brother is also getting support from IWF. Sana continues to get IWF scholarship to complete her B. Architecture course.

The man behind these success stories is Dr. Kashif Razi who identified these girls and connected them to IWF.

Razi of IWF said, “We provide scholarship and also monitor their studies. We renew the scholarship only when they perform consistently.”

IWF has been giving scholarship to poor students since 2011 under the banner of The Aligarh Project.

Dr. Shahid Jameel of IWF said there are many scholarships at the college level. But there are many poor students in private schools who are unable to reach upto college level.

“We need to identify such students at the very early stage and nurture them,” said Jameel. IWF gave scholarship to 29 students this year.



Tanzeela Qambrani, First Sindhi Sheedi Woman MPA in Pakistan

AUGUST 13, 2018

A Sheedi woman Tanzeela Qambrani became Pakistan’s first-ever Sindhi women to be the part of the provincial legislature as she took oath as a member of Sindh Assembly on Monday.

The newly appointed MPA is a 39-year-old and was nominated by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) for a women’s reserved seat in the Sindh Assembly.

Qambrani, whose ancestors belonged to Tanzania, is a postgraduate in Computer Science from the University of Sindh. She is a mother of three and has had political office experience as she has served as a local councilor.

Tanzeela’s father, Abdul Bari, was a lawyer while her mother is a retired school teacher.

Qambrani aims to remove the stigma attached to the Sheedi community.

Earlier in an interview with BBC, she said, “As a tiny minority lost in the midst of local populations, we have struggled to preserve our African roots and cultural expression, but I look forward to the day when the name Sheedi will evoke respect, not contempt.”

A total 164 of 168 MPAs were sworn-in in the Sindh Assembly on Monday.

The oath-taking took place in three languages in the Sindh Assembly i.e. Urdu, Sindhi, and English.



The Woman Leading the Way for Rohingya at a Bangladesh Camp

by Linah Alsaafin

August 13, 2018

Nayapara camp, Bangladesh - Romeda Begum's victory speech was neither long nor captivating.

"It was my first experience talking to a large crowd," said the 26-year-old, recalling the moment after being declared the winner of an unusual election to pick the leader of a camp hosting Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

"I was at a loss for words."

Romeda's success was the result of an experimental project to elect community representatives from the Rohingya population living in Shalbagan, an unregistered refugee camp that is an extension of the government-recognised Nayapara camp in Teknaf, south of Cox's Bazar.

Carried out for the first time in June, the voting process at Shalbagan and its three sub-blocs were organised by the United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) in collaboration with Adventist Development and Relief Agency and Bangladeshi local authorities.

The goal was to allow the camp's 16,000-strong Rohingya population, most of whom arrived here almost a year ago after fleeing a fierce crackdown by neighbouring Myanmar's army, to make decisions for themselves, says Muhammad Saiful Islam, the government-appointed camp-in-charge (CIC) official of Nayapara.

"We cannot impose any decision on them, so we decided that a type of representative community should come from them," he said.

Residents at Shalbagan were asked to pick a committee consisting of 12 representatives - four from each bloc - and three bloc leaders, all subject to a one-year tryout.

Their main duties include trying to resolve the disagreements between the community members and find solutions to the problems, as well as liaise with NGOs and the CIC to implement certain decisions.

Candidacy was open to both men and women between the ages of 25 and 35. To be able to run, the eligible candidates also had to meet certain criteria, including having no criminal record and no instances of antisocial behaviour.

SM Liaquat Ali, the project field coordinator of all of the NGOs working in the camp, said that the election campaign highlighted "transparency, accountability, governance and communication" from the community.

"The elected were then given training in code of conduct, legal rights, rules and responsibility, and emergency response training," he added.

The mazis' malice

But not everything went smoothly.

According to Ali, the Rohingya community leaders - known as mazis - who were selected by the Bangladeshi army at the start of the crisis to keep order at food distribution points made several attempts to disrupt the election process.

"When they were informed that there would be new community leaders, the mazis became engaged in some malpractice," Ali said, citing instances of blackmailing and corruption, including purposely distributing food aid unequally.

Islam, the CIC, was more blunt. "They hampered the election process by threatening candidates not to run," he said.

Yet intimidation and bullying failed to deter the candidates and the election went forward as planned.

Women at the forefront

Because more than 50 percent of Shalbagan's population is female, the local community chose half of their representatives to be women.

"This will empower women day by day," Islam said, adding that the vote took place after the women attended a motivational programme that raised awareness of their rights.

Sitting outside a communal shelter at the camp, Nur Begum, a Rohingya NGO volunteer, said that she considers the "women-led system as more beneficial than the previous mazi way".

"The women succeeded in engaging more people from the community to volunteer with NGOs," she said, adding that even though the "solutions remain evasive", the new system "has made it easier for me as a woman to raise [the] issues we face."

Nearby, Senwara Begum nodded in agreement.

"Because the leader is of the same gender as us, it is easier to go to her with our problems; there is better understanding," she said.

For Romeda, who fled Myanmar's Rakhine state with her sister in October 2016, before the rest of the family joined them at the height of the Rohingya crisis in August 2017, that is down to being actively involved.

She said she participates in all the meetings held by NGOs and the CIC, where she is given the floor to speak her mind.

She also scans the camp several times a week to listen to the grievances of her community.

"My mobile phone is always on to receive complaints, ranging from domestic quarrels, fraud and physical fights," she says.

"I am expected to solve them."

Since her victory in June, Romeda has solved 25 cases mostly related to domestic problems.

She said the "hardest" involved a man who beat his wife and would not give her food.

"The man changed after I told him he could be arrested," added the camp leader, adding that being a divorcee has no bearing on the men who also come to her with their troubles.

"I feel more respected by them," she said, before adding: "But I would still not remarry again."

'Do the best for the community'

Just like every week, Romeda and the other elected representatives met earlier in August with Ali, the project field coordinator, inside a communal bamboo and tarpaulin structure to discuss the situation at the camp.

Joined by a translator, the participants sat in an L-shape on UNHCR-stamped plastic sheets over the slightly wet mud.

Romeda was more in her element here. Her face veil was flung over her head, revealing an expressive face. She spoke assertively and listened to Ali with rapt attention.

The meeting initially focused on finding new private accommodation for a dozen displaced Rohingya who lost their shelter due to landslides two months ago and now live in a communal space.

Later on, the discussion moved on to addressing the tensions with the mazis in the camp.

"They consider you lot a blow to their authority," Ali said, raising his voice slightly in an attempt to drown out the sudden staccato tap of rain on the plastic-sheeted roof.

"Don't fall to their level," he urged them.

"The best response to their threats is to do the best you can for the rest of the community," added Ali.

"You need to set an example to everyone else."



Iranian Female Photographer Defies Football Match Restrictions

12 August 2018

An Iranian photographer has caught the world's attention after she defied restrictions that prevent women from covering men's sporting events.

Parisa Pourtaherian, 26, was unable to enter the Vatani Stadium in northern Iran to cover a top-flight football match last month.

But she was undeterred and covered the game from a nearby rooftop using a long camera lens.

Images of her on the roof have been widely shared on social media.

Although there's no official ban on women going to sporting events in Iran, it is rare for them to attend as they are often refused entry.

Many people have praised Ms Pourtaherian's determination to cover this match despite the restrictions. Here, in her own words, she tells her story to the BBC.

Parisa Pourtaherian: I arrived at the match three hours early and all my focus was on a finding a way to take photographs. I looked for a nearby building that I could use, but I couldn't find one anywhere.

I knocked on doors one after another, but I was determined not to get upset when I wasn't successful. If I had got upset at my first attempt I would never have had this opportunity.

Finally, by half time, I convinced the owners of a house near the stadium to let me go on to their roof.

I could do my job for an entire half of the match, although I was not able to see one part of the pitch because there was a tree right in front of me!

I wasn't scared. The police in the stadium saw me that night but they did nothing and left me alone as I did my job.

I felt very excited to be taking photographs of such a high-level football match in Iran, especially in that particular situation.

The on-site photographers were busy capturing interesting shots of the game but when they saw me on the roof they took my photo. I think all of them did!

I found the pictures of me on various social networks and some others were sent to me by my friends. People in Iran reacted very positively and all I have received is positive energy.

I have to confess that all of this reaction and positive feedback was a bit weird for me at first. I was not thinking about what the reaction would be in the first place, I was just focused on taking photographs.

I love football and it's how I started in sports photography. I went to Turkey to cover the friendly match there with Iran just before the World Cup in Russia.

I've also covered volleyball matches because in Iran most of the restrictions are placed on football, not on other sports.

But my dream is to be able to take photos of Manchester United playing football at Old Trafford at least once in my lifetime. I would also like to be a professional photographer who can travel to different continents to take photos of sports matches around the world.

I will do my best to make this dream come true, but my biggest dream is to see women have the same opportunities as men when they come to football stadiums in Iran.




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