Faith and Friendship: Shaping the Future Together
When: Sunday April 7 2019, 10.00 – 16.00
Where: University of Westminster, Marylebone Campus
Join hundreds of Muslim and Jewish women on 7th April for Nisa-Nashim’s third annual conference at Westminster University! This event aims to unite Jewish and Muslim women from across the UK, to explore the power of working together in faith and friendship for the sake of a better world.
We’ll explore what it means to view cross-community friendship as an engine of social transformation. We’ll ask, what does it mean to practice friendship as a form of social action? What role does friendship play in unlocking women’s leadership? What can our faith traditions teach us about being better friends and changemakers?
Scroll down to take a look at our line-up of the fantastic speakers we’ll be hearing from on Sunday 7th April.
Naz Shah is the MP for Bradford West and Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities. She chairs a nationally recognised, award winning mental health charity, and has developed numerous community and social initiatives. Her passions include tackling inequality, progressing social justice and developing strong and positive leadership. Naz is an an award winning campaigner, activist, community champion and inspirational speaker, paticularly on issues such as honour based violence, violence against women and forced marriages.
Naz Shah MP
Metropolitan Police Commissioner
Cressida Dick was appointed as the Metropolitan Police’s first female commissioner in February 2017. Throughout her career, she has picked up several esteemed accolades and mantles, including the Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished service; in 2013 she was assessed as one of the most 100 most powerful women in the UK by BBC4’s Women’s Hour; and in the Queen’s 2015 New Year Honour’s List was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
Debbie Weekes-Bernard became Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement in November 2018.
Debbie works to improve Londoners’ life chances and to boost social integration and community voice across the Mayor’s programmes. She leads the promotion of equalities and active citizenship across London, and makes sure City Hall actively seeks to tackle poverty for Londoners across all groups. Alongside professional work, Debbie has a longstanding professional and personal interest in social justice, social mobility and community engagement.
Akeela Ahmed MBE
Akeela Ahmed MBE has been an equalities activist and campaigner for nearly 20 years. On Muslim Women’s Day, she was listed in Nylon magazine as an activist that is ‘making a difference’. In 2014 she founded ‘She Speaks We Hear’ which gives unfiltered women’s voice a platform. Akeela advises and works with government in tackling anti-Muslim hatred, sitting on the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group as Chair of the Independent Members. She is also a social entrepreneur within the social housing sector. Akeela is co-organiser of the Women’s March on London and in January 2017, she spoke to over one hundred thousand people at the Women’s March on London. For her work with WML she was listed as one of Stylist’s Women of the Year 2017.
Solutions Not Sides
Solutions Not Sides seeks to tackle Antisemitism, Anti-Muslim Hate and polarisation around the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the UK. The programme provides humanising encounters and focuses on possible solutions based on understanding both sides’ narratives. Their aim is to shift attitudes away from supporting one side against the other, and towards seeking a solution for the human beings involved.
Sharon Booth is the founder and director of Solutions Not Sides. Following her graduation from Cambridge University, she taught English in Tunisia and then went on to work in Amman, Jordan. In her final year in Jordan, she was employed as PA to the Defence Attaché at the British Embassy, then returned to the UK and began work in Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution, founding the Solutions Not Sides Education Programme in 2010. In January 2016, she was awarded a master’s degree with distinction from King’s College London, in Terrorism, Security and Society, specialising in nationalism and religion.
Ruba Huleihel is a 31-year-old Palestinian from Jerusalem who was recently called to the Bar after studying at the University of Law in London. She attended a Seeds of Peace camp during one of the bloodiest times in the conflict. She describes it as “the only place that gave us room to breathe, where we could talk about the conflict and learn to respect each other’s history and narrative”. She is co-founder of Birdsong, a social enterprise that creates income for under-served women and has worked at GT Stewart Solicitors & Advocates, specialising in community care law. She is currently working towards qualifying as a barrister specialising in criminal, immigration and human rights law. Her recent pro-bono projects include teaching debate to prisoners in HMPs Isis, Pentonville and Wandsworth and acting as an advocate with the Communities Empowerment Network for children excluded from schools.
Michal Huss is 26 years old and grew up in Omer, a small town in the southern part of Israel. Currently Michal is doing her PhD at the Architecture Department at the Centre for Urban Conflicts Research. Prior to this Michal gained a Distinction in MA Art and Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London, and holds a BA Joint Honours degree in History of Art and Fine Art from the same University. In addition to her academic studies, she has recently created and developed artistic projects with community groups that focus on maps and mapping. Growing up in Israel, a country in on-going political conflict has had a profound influence on her. She believes that putting an end to violence and solving the conflict through political negotiation will make life safer and better for both Israelis and Palestinians.
Jemma Levene is Deputy Director of HOPE Not Hate. Jemma is responsible for ensuring the smooth running of HOPE not hate. She also leads on our work with faith communities and on our Education work. Prior to joining HOPE Not Hate, Jemma worked for non-profits in the UK and USA. She holds an MA (Hons) in Social Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh, and is a graduate of the Susi Bradfield Educational Leadership Programme and the Senior Faith Leadership Programme. She has contributed to news and broadcast media for HOPE not hate.
Julie Siddiqi is a mentor, consultant and activist with a focus on gender issues, Jewish-Muslim relations and social action. She has a background in community grass roots work spanning 20 years.
Julie was the Executive Director of the Islamic Society of Britain from 2010-2014 and was pivotal in peace initiatives following the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich. She has spoken on many major news programmes including Radio 4 and Newsnight, at the Christian festival, Greenbelt and the Jewish festival, Limmud, and at receptions hosted by the British Armed Forces.
Together with Laura Marks, she nationally co-chairs Nisa-Nashim.
Laura Marks set up Mitzvah Day in 2008 after a career in the commercial world. Mitzvah Day is committed to bringing people together to change the world for the better, through social action and is now running in 20 countries. In the UK our focus is largely on bringing people of different faiths together in an increasingly fractured world.
Elected Senior Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews from 2012-2015, Laura used this time to establish Women in Jewish Leadership to bring more women into leadership roles. As Vice Chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust Laura brings people together to focus on shared issues of genocide, hatred and its prevention. Laura speaks (as often as she can) on issues relating to interfaith relationships, integration, equalities and social action and is a new contributor to Radio 2 Pause for Thought.
Laura’s two passions of equality and inclusion and of interfaith relationships come together in Nisa-Nashim which she is delighted to co-chair with Julie Siddiqi.
Laura Marks OBE
Annette Lawson OBE
Annette Lawson is an active feminist who, for many years, has held leading positions in women’s organisations seeking gender equality and women’s access to their human rights. She has worked at UK, European and UN levels, and brings expertise in relations to and lobbying government. She has written on mental illness and disability and is deeply conscious of the difficulties faced both by those with these issues and also by their families and carers. Annette was the awarded an OBE for services to diversity in 2004.
Saima Ahmed has made volunteering in the homeless sector a central part of her life. As well as starting and running the first overnight night shelter in a Mosque, she also co-runs a nights shelter at St James Church in Piccadilly and over Christmas she runs one of Crisis dependency shelters. During the extreme cold weather last year in a joint emergency effort with Westminster Council and the GLA Saima had lead on providing 100 rough sleepers with emergency shelter for four days. Saima’s passion for working with homeless people is tireless and through volunteering she has become an advocate for combatting homelessness.
Esmat Jeraj is a community organiser and activist. Professionally, she works to build confidence and resilience amongst young people from disadvantaged communities. She previously led a national commission exploring barriers to Muslim participation in public life, authoring its report “The Missing Muslims” which explored issues around integration, employment disadvantage, anti-Muslim prejudice and Muslim institutions. She also worked to promote community sponsorship of refugees affected by the Syrian conflict, and sits on the Advisory Board for Sponsor Refugees.
Rachel Rose Reid is a professional storyteller, co-founder of Yelala, and is the first British woman to be ordained by the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, which renews knowledge of Jewish women’s spiritual leadership from antiquity to the present day, through study of sacred text, anthropology, folklore, and embodied practices. She facilitates Jewish-rooted rituals, & learning experiences for Jewish and multi-faith settings.
Rachel Rose Reid
Sukina Douglas is one half of Spoken Word and Hip Hop duo Poetic Pilgrimage Music and has been writing and performing for over 10 years. She has performed across the UK, Europe the USA and North and South Africa sharing her Poetry and Hip Hop that has led her to share stages with artists such as Talib Kweli, Knaan, Rakim, Brother Ali, Bahamadia, Amir Sulaiman and many others. She has led poetry workshops across the world, inspiring people with the power of the word.
Tanya Muneera Williams is one half of Spoken Word and Hip Hop duo Poetic Pilgrimage Music. Poetic Pilgrimage is a female Hip Hop and Spoken Word duo who express the world as they see it through the art of rhyme. They are a rare act, being one of the few Muslim female outfits around and they bring a refreshing perspective to issues of identity, global politics and women’s issues inspired by their faith and legacy of their ancestors.They have been performing together as Poetic Pilgrimage for over 10 years. They have performed across the UK, US and Europe . They have shared stages with Talib Kweli, K-naan, Brother Ali, Bahamadia, Mutabaruka, Mr Lif and more. Poetic Pilgrimage are also workshop facilitators and value the ability to teach Poetry and Hip Hop to a younger generation with the aim of being able to enable them change their realities
Tanya Muneera Williams