New Labour’s policies to influence and challenge Islam in contemporary Britain: A case study on the National Muslim Women’s Advisory Group’s Theology Project

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The creation of the National Muslims Women’s Advisory Group (NMWAG) in 2008 by Britain’s New Labour Government was part of a strategy which sought to engage different levels of Muslim communities beneath an overarching focus on reducing ‘Islamic extremism’. To do so however, Government acknowledged that it would need to support Muslim women to overcome some of the constraints it believed were placed on Muslim women in contemporary Britain. Deeming theology and religious interpretation to be one of those constraints, Government saw the need to empower Muslim women to ‘influence and challenge’ religious and theological discourses as a priority. This article therefore offers a case study on a project that was commissioned by Government that sought to empower Muslim women to ‘influence and challenge’ theological interpretations in collaboration with the NMWAG. Having gained unprecedented access to the NMWAG, its activities and engagement with Government, this article presents previously unpublished findings from that project to focus on two key themes: Muslim women, their identity and position; and theology, leadership and the participation of women. Having explored these in detail, this article concludes by critically reflecting on the way in which Government engaged and interacted with Muslim women, the role and relative success of the NMWAG and, most importantly, the extent to which the NMWAG was able to ‘influence and challenge’ interpretations of Islamic theology.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-19
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Sciences Directory
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2014


  • Muslim women, Islam, political engagement, National Muslim Women’s Advisory Group, extremist ideologies