Muslim women face a 'triple penalty' in labour market

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MPs have found Muslim women are three times less likely to be in work than women generally

Muslim women face a “triple penalty” on their employment prospects – being women, being BAME and being Muslim – according to a report from the Women and Equalities Committee.

The report stated that Muslim women are three times more likely to be unemployed and looking for a job than women generally.

It said that their religion is the main reason Muslim women feel disadvantaged in the labour market and that the rise in Islamophobia is affecting their participation in the workplace.

“The impact of Islamophobia on Muslim women should not be underestimated,” the report said. “The government should raise awareness among employers of what constitutes discrimination. In particular, this applies to those employers who advertise vacancies through Jobcentre Plus.”

It also quoted advice for employers from the Muslim Women’s Network UK, which suggests organisations should “take such matters into account and help employees feel a part of the team and cared for… simple actions such as the company offering to pay the taxi fare, arranging car sharing or organising lunchtime events for team-building purposes, shows inclusivity and solidarity”.

The report said that Muslim women face more overt discrimination in the recruitment process when applying for jobs. “We heard evidence that Muslim women were more likely to be asked questions about their marital status and family life,” the committee said.

It also stated there is evidence that Muslim women face discrimination during recruitment because of religious or cultural clothing. “Employers should pay particular attention to the impact of discrimination and the fear of discrimination in the workplace for Muslim women who wear cultural or religious dress,” the report said.

It added that the rise in name-blind recruitment is a “welcome step” that should go further and become part of a “sustained initiative” by the government to encourage more employers to implement the policy.

Maria Miller, who chairs the Women and Equalities Committee, said: “Muslim women particularly face really unacceptable levels of discrimination, and that discrimination comes from the workplace, from employers, but also from within communities as well.”

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