Muslim Girls Fence is a project collaboration between Maslaha and British Fencing which aims to facilitate spaces at a grassroots level for Muslim girls and women.
Muslim Girls Fence is a project collaboration between Maslaha and British Fencing which aims to facilitate spaces at a grassroots level for Muslim girls and women to challenge assumptions and narratives relating to their gender, racial, religious and other identities through both physical and creative methods.
Fencing has predominantly been viewed as an elitist sport reserved for those from privileged, white backgrounds, but Muslim Girls Fence seeks to change that. This programme physically confronts the stereotypes of fencers while also working to skewer society’s misconceptions about Muslim women, a group who face complex discrimination on the basis of both faith and gender.
A joint initiative between British Fencing and the charity Maslaha, Muslim Girls Fence uses the sport to not only improve physical fitness and instil self-confidence in young Muslim women, but to develop resilience and give them the tools to challenge society’s expectations of them.
Facilitating safe spaces for Muslim girls and women to express themselves on their own terms – both physically and creatively – is particularly important in the current climate in the UK where Muslim women are disproportionately and systematically excluded, othered, surveilled and dehumanised.
Before they fence, they begin sessions with workshops exploring themes of identity and self-expression through creative exercises such as collaging, drawing, photography and poetry. The young women report feeling more confident and enjoy being immersed in a new activity.
While the project centres around Muslim girls and women the project always encourage non-Muslim girls and women to also participate as they believe that breaking down harmful misconceptions of what it is to be a Muslim is relevant to people of all backgrounds.
Muslim Girls Fence continues to run in schools and community organisations but has fed into policy level discussions at London City, Hall, and wider sports and inclusion programmes with Sport England.
It has also allowed a trusted space to be created that could be used to explore other local issues, focusing on identity, well-being, and civic engagement.