Shaheen Hashmat is a Scottish Pakistani writer and campaigner, and the founder of Double Bind. Having escaped the threat of forced marriage 20 years ago when she was 12 years old, Shaheen now spends much of her time highlighting the long-term recovery needs of those affected by forced marriage and ‘honour’-related abuse, focusing specifically on the need for urgent improvement of mental health services. She occasionally writes for Telegraph Wonder Women and the New Statesman, and has also appeared on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, BBC Asian Network, Reuters, Stella Magazine and the Scottish Sunday Mail. She is also winner of the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation's 'True Honour' Award 2016. By promoting the voices of other women from a Muslim background, Shaheen hopes to play her part in addressing some of the most urgent issues concerning our generation today.
You can follow her on Twitter @tartantantrum, and on her personal blog - www.shaheenhashmat.com.
Yasmin Baruchi predominantly blogs on issues relating to Islamic extremism, with specific focus on its impact on women. Yasmin is of Indian Muslim heritage and writes from the perspective of someone who has had to tolerate and challenge norms designed to control and restrict her choices in the name of religion and culture for far too long. A mother by day and an activist during baby nap times - fighting for the freedoms she wants her children to have that she never did.
Pakistani-Canadian illustrator/blogger and author of 'My Chacha is Gay'. Writes and draws about sexuality in South Asia (mostly Pakistan), religion, politics, feminism and godlessness. You can follow her on Twitter @nicemangos.
Akeela Ahmed is an equalities campaigner specialising in youth and gender issues. She has over ten years experience of supporting vulnerable individuals with complex social and mental health difficulties, providing high intensity support services to young and homeless people from diverse backgrounds, including refugees, asylum seekers, ex-offenders and BAME groups.
She was Chief Executive of the Muslim Youth Helpline for three years, and has advised the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), the Faith Inquiry project run by the leading think-tank Demos, The Prince’s Trust Mosaic’s Ex-Offender Programme, the production team for the national primetime UK television drama Eastenders, as well as various government departments. Since 2012, she has been a Ministerially-appointed UK government advisor, sitting on the Cross Government Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hatred based at the UK Department for Communities and Local Government. Last year, she was appointed to the British government’s Office for the Children's Commissioner advisory panel on the Child Sex Abuse in the Family Environment Inquiry. Akeela is also the Muslim Family Specialist at the Christian Muslim Forum in London.
Akeela is a property development entrepreneur. She holds an MSc in Mental Health Studies from the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London. A regular contributor to national and international media, Akeela has appeared on BBC News, BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio 4’s 'The Today' programme, BBC London, BBC Asian Network, Sky News, Channel 5 News, the Guardian, Telegraph, and the Independent, among others
Halima Begum is an ex-Muslim, feminist, campaigner for secularism and blogger. Following her decade-long journey of exploring both the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam, as well as Islamism, Halima is now an outspoken advocate of gender equality and secular liberalism. Her study, British ex-Muslims: Negotiating the Essential and the Revolutionary", won the Best Dissertation Award at Birkbeck University in 2014. Halima's core aims are to promote freedom of expression and uphold rights of personal autonomy. She hopes to share her journey and help others dealing with faith-related issues to find a way to live according to their own values. You can follow Halima on Twitter (@thumbalima), or through her personal blog, Tales of Courage (talesofcourage.wordpress.com).
Aliyah Saleem is an ex-Muslim atheist who attended an Islamic school in Britain for five years. She also studied in an Islamic institution for a year in Pakistan. Having left Islam at 19, Aliyah has since spoken about ex-Muslim issues as well as advocating for secular education. She is the co-founder of Faith to Faithless, an organisation that raises awareness of the discrimination and prejudiced faced by people who leave religion. Aliyah is an ex-hijabi and niqabi who has also written about her work and personal experiences for The Times.
You can follow Aliyah on Twitter @ali_jones89 and through her blog, www.aliyahsaleem.wordpress.com.
Huma Munshi is a writer, public speaker and trade union activist. She writes on race, politics, feminism and activism. She is a prolific campaigner on forced marriage, drawing on her own experience as a survivor. She is a public speaker on mental health and the importance of having appropriate services for diverse groups. Huma's writing has been published in the Guardian and the Feminist Review, amongst other publications.
Follow her on Twitter at @huma101.
Jamila writes and campaigns for liberal, secular values and universal human rights. She is from a Muslim background but after many years of questioning her faith, became an atheist in her late teens. She is still in the closet about her apostasy and blogs anonymously at https://atheistinaheadscarf.wordpress.com/. You can also follow her on Twitter @atheistinhijab.
Zahira is a trainee solicitor who currently works in civil liberties and human rights law. In particular, she undertakes civil actions against the police and state authorities, as well as judicial reviews of state decisions. She is specifically interested in negligence cases involving victims of sexual and domestic violence, and hopes to focus on these more once she is fully qualified. Zahira has previously volunteered with charities which support women fleeing from domestic violence, such as The Ashiana Project and the National Centre for Domestic Violence. She is interested in ensuring that male victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse also receive support. You can follow Zahira on Twitter at @ZahiraPatel.
Raquel Evita Saraswati is an American Muslim activist who focuses primarily on issues related to the status of women and girls in Muslim-majority societies and communities. She works to eradicate honour and gender-based violence (including female genital mutilation), end forced and child marriages, and protect the separation of religion and state.
Raquel has published in various papers and journals including Publico, Portugal’s largest daily, Aquila Style (a cosmopolitan Muslim women’s magazine published in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei), and others. She has lectured in North America and Europe on issues like gender-based violence and minority rights.
In 2007, Raquel received the prestigious Colin Higgins’ Youth Courage Award, granted to ‘those individuals who have endured overwhelming hostility and hate, yet have handled themselves with the utmost grace.’ In 2010, Raquel received a Durga Award at the 6th annual San Diego IndieFest. The Durga Awards are presented annually to ‘outstanding women who dedicate their lives to healing communities.’ Raquel is the first women under age 30 to receive this award.
Click here to learn about Raquel’s project, The Adalah Initiative, which is still in its early stages. You can follow her on Twitter, and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. (You can also visit her on Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr and if you’re still using it, MySpace.)
“Another world is not only possible, she’s on the way. And, on a quiet day, if you listen very carefully – you can hear her breathe.” – Arundhati Roy
Sadaf Ahmed is a journalist, activist and founder of Musafir Collective, an organisation which works with refugees across Europe. She studied anthropology with a particular interest in nationalist and politico-religious movements, and has worked in Pakistan as a gender researcher. She has also worked as a journalist in both print and broadcast media, covering subjects relating to environmentalism, community relations and political Islam. Her work has been published in the UK and overseas.