JAN Trust is a multi-award winning charity empowering and providing leadership for women in order to create positive and active citizens of society

Education,

Celebrating International Women’s Day at JAN Trust

Happy International Woman’s Day to women (and men) across the world! Many events are happening today, including a general strike in the US against the current administration and their attitude towards women and a parallel Day Without Women strike in the UK to highlight women’s contribution to the economy. A highlight of the day is set to be Malala Yousafzai’s UN speech which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3.  

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the achievements of women across the world, socially, economically, culturally and politically. The day also calls for gender equality. International Women’s Day is important in symbolising the power of women across the world. This day is a day to commemorate the hard work that women all over the work commit to in order to achieve their dream. Last Year the campaign was a pledge to end gender disparity. This year, the International Women’s Day theme is to Be Bold for Change,- encouraging women to be empowered in the fight for gender equality. .

Currently, despite the UN’s theme of achieving 50/50 gender equality by 2030, it is estimated that this will not happen for 170 years. However, the fight for gender equality has been slowly making progress.

Last week, the UK Parliament voted to pass a bill which aims to end domestic violence. And since International Women’s Day last year, gender equality around the world has progressed. The US Senate has more women than ever before. Maternal mortality has fallen by 45% since 1990. In terms of representation, more movies now have female protagonists. Rwanda’s parliament has the highest number of women representatives in the world. In terms of educational attainment, girls are outperforming boys.

Of course, despite these changes there is still much to be improved and awareness still needs to be raised around the issues facing women and girls. Still, one in three women experience gender-based violence and annually 62 million girls are denied access to education.

At JAN Trust, we have helped to empower over 110,000 women by giving them skills to improve their employment prospects including IT, English and fashion. Our Web Guardians© programme works to provide women and mothers to tackle extremism and online radicalisation, protecting their young ones. Furthermore, our Against Female Genital Mutilation and Against Forced Marriages campaigns work to raise awareness of the human rights abuses women suffer around the world on a daily basis. During this month of celebrating women’s achievements, if you would like to support the work that JAN Trust does, text JANT00 £10 to 70070.

Our Director, Sajda Mughal OBE, has said:

“Every year I welcome International Women’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate the achievements and also the potential of women. As the leader of a multi-award winning women’s charity, JAN Trust, I recognise the key role that women play in society, a role that is often overlooked. I work to create gender parity in all areas by providing women with the skills so that they can integrate, feel confident in their abilities and fulfil their full potential.  For JAN Trust, being Bold For Change means unlocking the potential that women all over the world have. As leaders, we have a responsibility to take decisive action to help include and advance women. Everyone – women, men and non-binary people – can pledge to take a step to help achieve gender parity in whatever way they can. At JAN Trust this includes helping women to believe that they can push themselves to achieve their very best and take control of their lives. In 2017 let us all #BeBoldForChange and fight for gender parity between men and women.”

#IWD2017 #BeBoldForChange

Fighting extremism 11 years on after the London bombings

Tomorrow marks the 11th anniversary of the London bombings, a series of coordinated terrorist suicide bomb attacks in Central London that killed 52 people and injured many more. As we remember those who lost their lives, and those who were injured on that terrible day 11 years ago, we chat with our Director, Sajda Mughal OBE, a survivor of the 7/7 bombings, about that fateful day and how it changed her life.

Today marks the 11th anniversary of the London bombings. How does it make you feel thinking about that day 11 years on? Are you still affected by it, and if so, how?

It’s been 11 years but I am still haunted by what happened to me on that day. It’s a day I will never ever forget. It changed my life forever. Tragedy struck that day in the form of an indiscriminate attack which resulted in innocent lives being lost. Every year, around the anniversary of 7/7, I suffer flashbacks and on a day-to-day basis I try to avoid travelling on the tube because I still find it very difficult. It brings back memories of my tragic journey to work that morning. Had my OCD of wanting to sit on the first carriage got the better of me I wouldn’t be alive today. Germaine Lindsay detonated his bomb 10 seconds after the train departed Kings Cross, killing innocent people and injuring many more. I am fortunate to be alive today and to be able to make a difference by trying to prevent such an attack from happening again.

You have spoken in the media countless times about what happened to you that day and how it changed your life. Can you tell us a bit about how exactly it changed your life and motivated you to do the work you have been doing for the last 11 years?

The London bombings changed my life completely. Before that day I was working in the corporate sector working my way up the career ladder and earning a good salary. I was in a good job but what I experienced set me on a new path.

I was left bewildered after the attack. I just couldn’t comprehend why someone would choose do such an awful thing. I wanted to find out who the suicide bombers were. When I read about them, and discovered that they called themselves Muslim my first thought was how can they call themselves Muslim because this was not the Islam I knew. I then thought about their families, particularly their mothers, and what they must be thinking. My mother is so important to me and I couldn’t imagine the pain and anguish she would feel if one of her children were to do such a thing.

In 2008, I joined JAN Trust, a multi-award winning charity working at the grassroots with women and young people from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) communities. The charity already had well-established links with mothers from communities affected by the issue of radicalisation and extremism. I wanted to work with these mothers because I saw them as the key to tackling radicalisation and extremism. In Islam a huge amount of respect is conferred upon mothers. We believe that heaven lies at the feet of your mother, and so I felt that working with Muslim mothers was the right way to go if we wanted to really address the issue of radicalisation and extremism. We conducted research and consultations over a number of years on Internet Extremism which we then used to design and develop our highly acclaimed Web Guardians© programme. We have been and continue to be at the forefront of working with women and mothers to tackle radicalisation.

There are organisations that are now realising, years later, that it is by engaging with families that we can address this issue, but JAN Trust has been doing this for the last 10 years with a genuine passion, commitment and dedication to making a difference. It’s what we’ve been saying all along and our experience of working with mothers who have challenged extremism from within the home has guided our work on de-radicalisation. We have campaigned that mothers are central to the fight against radicalisation and extremism. If they are provided with the right support, in terms of knowledge and skills from an organisation such as ours, with the knowledge, expertise and genuine interest and concern, they can be  empowered to challenge extremism.

One of the main issues you work on with women and young people is preventing radicalisation and extremism. Do you see any relationship between hate groups and Far-right ideological violence?

Yes, as well as working with women and mothers to address the issue of radicalisation and extremism we also work with schools with students, parents, teachers and governors on safeguarding against extremism. I think that the rise in Far-right violence is proof that there is a relationship between hate groups and Far-right ideological violence and there have been warnings from groups such as ourselves and Hope Not Hate about this.

A few weeks ago, we saw the tragic and brutal death of Labour MP Jo Cox who was killed by a man that was inspired by Far-right ideology. There are other examples such as Anders Brevik who sympathised with the views of Tommy Robinson, former leader of the English Defence League (EDL), and Pavlo Lapshyn who murdered Mohammed Saleem in Birmingham.

We have continuously highlighted the threat that Far-right poses in our work with women and schools. We need to address the threat of Far-right extremism and ensure all forms of extremism are taken seriously not just extremist acts by people who claim to be Muslim.

What do you think needs to be done to tackle extremism? What is the way forward?

As I’ve just mentioned I think that all forms of extremism should be taken seriously – this is the first thing because extremism is not specific to a faith, race or ethnicity and it affects everybody as we’ve seen with terrorist acts being committed all over the world. By addressing one form of extremism, you alienate people, you make them feel marginalised which exacerbates the problem and you prevent yourself from being able to engage with communities because they don’t trust you.

I’m an advocate of the bottom-up approach. I believe it’s important to engage with communities, to understand what they are thinking and feeling in order to identify the root causes of the problem and then work with them to design the appropriate solutions. Our Web Guardians© programme has shown that this is the most effective way to tackle radicalisation and extremism. The feedback from professionals and women and mothers who have attended the programme confirm this. On lady told us“When I first came to the course I didn’t know that much about the internet or radicalisation and extremism but now I’ve learnt a lot. I can teach my children, and my grandchildren. I can show them the way because this issue affects everyone in the family and someone who is thinking of going to Syria must know this.’

We were told at the end of one session by a lady working for a local council “Thank you for today’s session. It was great. One of the mothers has her son in the Channel programme. This was hard hitting for her and will help.”

I would also say that another reason we have been effective is because the women and young people we work with are able to identify with us coming from the same religious and a similar cultural background. We understand the challenges they face. This immediately creates an atmosphere where honest debate and discussion about a highly sensitive and highly contentious issue can take place.

Meet Sarla!

Sarla“Before I had no confidence to write English but now I write WhatsApp [messages] and I’m trying to use the computer as well.”

This month JAN Trust would like to introduce you to Sarla. Read her profile below:

Name: Sarla

Country of origin: India

Ethnicity: Indian

Sarla arrived in the UK in 1975 with her father-in-law from Gujrat, India. Her in-laws were already settled in the UK in London. She came to join her husband who was born in Kenya and had gone to university in India.  When she came to the UK she knew a little bit of English but was not confident in speaking.

Sarla had been in the UK a long time before she heard of JAN Trust. She learnt of JAN Trust from a friend who she met through her work. One day her friend was in a rush to get somewhere and Sarla asked her where she was going. “I have to go to school now. I’m going to JAN Trust. Aunty, why don’t you come with me?” And this is how Sarla ended up at JAN Trust by word of mouth.

When asked what she likes the most about JAN Trust, Sarla responded with a smile “I like everything. People are friendly.”

Sarla feels coming to JAN Trust has definitely helped her. “Before I had no confidence to speak and write English but now I write WhatsApp [messages] and I’m using the computer as well. My daughter has bought me a small computer now.”

To find out more about our ESOL classes and other classes we run, take a look at our website: www.jantrust.org or give us a call on: 0208 889 9433.
 

Mental Health Among South Asians

Poor mental health is normally regarded as something that affects individuals. But sometimes it can help to take a step back and look at what may be troubling the minds of particular groups in our society. There’s growing evidence that a combination of social pressures are creating overwhelming challenges for some people in the South Asian community.

It’s important to help people with mental health problems in any community. But in the case of South Asians, offering timely and effective assistance can prevent catastrophe, as young Asian men with mental health issues are increasingly being targeted by extremists and radicalised. The pain and confusion that often comes with their illness is being redirected into violent rage.

Muslim mothers v Extremism

Here at JAN Trust, we had a very busy start to 2016 travelling across the UK to deliver our innovative and highly acclaimed Web Guardians© programme.

We began working on the issue of online radicalisation and extremism after being approached by mothers who had concerns about their children. We found little research had been done on online radicalisation and extremism and so in 2006 we began conducting our own research into this area. This culminated in a report titled ‘Internet Extremism: Working Towards a Community Solution’ published in 2012 and the creation Web Guardians© a programme targeted at Muslim mothers. The programme educates and equips women and mothers with the ability and essential skills to tackle online radicalisation. Our programme has received praise not only from former Prime Minister David Cameron and both current and former members of government but most importantly from the women and mothers with and for whom the programme was developed. Web Guardians© is successful because of our technical expertise and cultural knowledge.

This week we would like to introduce you to one of our programme participants, Fatma a 39-year-old mother of two, who is originally from Somalia. When asked why she was participating in the programme, Fatma replied, ‘I have two children, a boy and a girl … Since I have two children who constantly use the Internet and ask me questions [about] whether things are appropriate, I want to know how to answer them.” Although Fatma’s husband is an IT technician, she wanted to learn herself and not from him.

We were delighted to receive an e-mail from Fatma during the course which read:

“I would like to thank you and everyone at Jan Trust for the amazing work you do to educate our communities about the benefits and dangers of new age technologies.”

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the Web Guardians© course and plan to implement what I learned into my daily work and family life.”

At the end of the programme, Fatma spoke about her motivation to participate in the programme and what she would be taking away from it. She felt very strongly about other mothers having the opportunity to attend the programme saying that “I want other mothers to be made aware by you, not just about how to protect themselves and their children, but also how to reach out to others in their community.”

A fortnight ago, JAN Trust caught up with Fatma to see how she was getting on. She said,

“I am always talking about the programme with my friends. I’ve told them about what I learnt and now they can protect their children.”

To find out more about Web Guardians©, take a look at our website: http://webguardians.org/ or give us a call on: 0208 889 9433. If you’re an organisation that is interested in partnering with us, please fill in our partnership form.

Vulnerable Minds: How Daesh is Recruiting Iraqi Children and Targeting British Teenagers

As Iraqi forces’ liberation of Mosul continues, attention is increasingly focusing on what Daesh will do next.
 
It’s feared their leaders, members and sympathisers will ramp up their sinister efforts to target our young people here in Europe, calling for so-called ‘lone wolf’ attacks on home soil, prompting calls for us all to remain vigilant when it comes to protecting our children online.
 
One of Daesh’s most horrifying future strategies is the indoctrination and training of a new generation of fighters. As Daesh’s failed ‘caliphate’ collapses, hoards of fighters have been deserting the ranks – if they haven’t already been killed in combat or suicide attacks. Now, Daesh is preying on the most vulnerable and malleable minds: those of Iraqi and Syrian children.
 
The Independent recently published letters from young radicalised recruits to their parents, discovered at abandoned Daesh hideouts in eastern Mosul. They make for heart-wrenching reading.
 
One, written by Iraqi schoolboy Alaa Abd al-Akeedi, says: “My dear family, please forgive me. Don't be sad and don't wear the black clothes [of mourning]. I asked to get married and you did not marry me off. So, by God, I will marry the 72 virgins in paradise.” He was killed by his suicide vest shortly after. It’s thought he was just 16 years old.
 
The news agency Reuters has managed to gain access to relatives of the teenagers who left the notes.
 
Family members tell a story of innocence; of vulnerable, fragile minds being targeted and then indoctrinated. A man reveals that his teenage relative, who was recruited by Daesh and killed in a suicide attack, had been overweight and insecure and joined the jihadists after his father's death. He told Reuters: “His mind was fragile and they took advantage of that, promising him virgins and lecturing him about being a good Muslim. If someone had tempted him with drugs and alcohol, he probably would have done that instead.”
 
It is this last statement that hits home. As parents, we all understand the worry that our children will hang out in the ‘wrong crowd’ and get into drugs. Young minds are open to influence and eager to try new things – to ‘grow up’. It can be as easy as that.
 
In Iraq and Syria, young people may not be exposed to violence in the same format that our children are in the UK. Despite our efforts to shelter or protect them, our kids consume film, TV, online and video game violence to a point of such desensitisation that it is normalised. They witness the violence occurring in places like Syria and Iraq through their screens.
 
Syrian and Iraqi children on the other hand are directly witnessing violence on the streets in the most gruesome and horrific ways. Some have even been exposed to it under the regime of Daesh as the terrorist group took control of their neighbourhoods, yet even they are vulnerable to radicalisation.
 
Violence is glamourised in action films and video games in the virtual world British children often live in. The brutal realities of extreme violence are all too real for many Iraqi and Syrian children.
 
Some may be more susceptible to radicalisation than others. But all are vulnerable.
 
Phone apps and the Internet make it simple for a direct line to be formed between a Daesh militant in Iraq and our children here in the UK. Daesh knows that our young people are excited by video game violence, by the idea of handling a rifle and fighting an enemy.
 
Considering all of this, we must educate ourselves about the dangers and threats are children face and ensure lines of communication are open between us as parents and our children to protect them and prevent radicalisation.
 
At JAN Trust, we aim to help mothers who fear for their children’s safety online with our Web Guardians© project.
 
Many families have been destroyed by Daesh. JAN Trust is helping in the struggle against home-grown radicalisation so that more families do not have to suffer this same fate.
 
If you are interested in finding out more about Web Guardians© go to http://jantrust.org/projects/web-guardians
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