Campaigns: Human rights - Powerful Muslim women celebrated

Campaign: Muslim Women Power List 2009
Client: Equality and Human Rights Commission
PR team: In-house and Weber Shandwick
Timescale: March 2008-March 2009
Budget: More than £100,000

The Equality and Human Rights Commission exists for everyone in Britain, but especially those who do not have a seat at the top table, such as Muslim women, one of the most invisible and misunderstood groups in society.

The commission wanted to create role models for women within the Muslim community by championing their achievements and challenging prejudices. It also wanted to create a network defined by professional capabilities and interests. This meant reaching out to the 100,000 Muslim women working in Britain and creating a platform to celebrate their success.


- To create role models for Muslim women

- To reach out to Muslim women in Britain

- To secure support from Muslims, corporates, trade bodies and industry sectors

- To ensure British Muslim women know about the campaign and nom- inate themselves or others as role models.

Strategy and plan

The team ran two focus groups to better understand the perspective of British Muslim women. Barriers to success were identified as being gender-based, cultural, familial and religious. The participants also felt there were few advocates for British Muslim women.

The vision was to create a high-profile, glamorous and aspirational Muslim Women Power List. This would celebrate talent in all professional sectors and would culminate in an awards ceremony. It would form a wider, long-term initiative to build a network for professional Muslim women.

Media partnerships with The Times and Muslim lifestyle magazine Emel were set up to encourage nominations and a nominations website was launched. Letters were sent to 6,000 companies inviting them to nominate, and community activity and promotions took place in areas of London with high Muslim populations.

Once the list was launched, a survey was released examining the attitudes of British Muslim women. The final list of 100 women was unveiled at an event in March attended by 70 per cent of the women on the list, including number one, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, life peer and shadow minister for community cohesion.

Measurement and evaluation

The launch of the list resulted in 153 pieces of coverage. The Times, The Guardian, the Evening Standard and The Sun all ran stories.

The campaign was covered heavily in ethnic media and reports were picked up by regional newspapers, as well as niche online channels, such as feminist blogs, women's organisations and trade press.


The campaign attracted 250 nominations for the list and sparked widespread interest. A number of networking organisations have approached the commission to discuss partnerships to develop the project.

SECOND OPINION - Caroline Greenaway, Associate director, Trimedia

This was a great campaign. Despite its issues, the EHRC is widely regarded as doing some really positive work - and this is clearly one of its successes.

Creating the Power List was inspired. Everyone is familiar with the 'list' concept and reads them voraciously. A version about Muslim women is particularly interesting. And given an innovative enough topic, the journey from nominations to awards ceremony presents a multitude of coverage opportunities, which were clearly exploited here.

Newsworthiness came from being surprising, challenging perceptions and giving people new information. Simply talking about powerful Muslim women could be seen as surprising, but added to new research, created a story that would have gone straight up the media agenda.

If a campaign like this is to have great impact it cannot be about coverage alone. The value that will come from creating the network is good reason in itself for the existence of this campaign, but the momentum needs maintaining. It will be important that all parties remain committed to the concept for it to really improve opportunities for Muslim women in Britain.

I would perhaps look at getting the message out to younger and lower socioeconomic groups in future. There is an opportunity not just to preach to the converted, but to inspire Muslim schoolgirls and show that whatever they want to achieve, the sky really is the limit.

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