Women, Scotland & Inclusion: We need more than 'inspiring' inclusion

This International Women's Day, we're overjoyed to share with you four guest blogs from women across Scotland who are making meaningful steps towards women's equality. The theme of IWD this year is #InspireInclusion, & we asked our bloggers to talk about the communities and campaigns happening across the country.

graphic with a photo of Nosheen Ahmed in front of a background of icons incorporating the Engender logo, with text which reads Women, Scotland & Inclusion #IWD2024

Nosheen Ahmed is the Employability Project Coordinator at AMINA, the Muslim Women's Resource Centre. She is a trained Independent Domestic Abuse Advocate (IDAA).

A meme showing Victoria and David Beckham in conversation, where Victoria is acting as an organisation claiming to value equality & diversity, while David prompts her to admit that they have only provided cupcakes to mark International Women's Day.I came across this meme that has been circulating on LinkedIn inspired by the Beckhams, and it made me laugh because it hit the nail on the head…nothing says inclusion like a cupcake, right?

Thank you for the tokenistic gesture, but what we really want to see is meaningful change where as women, we can thrive in an environment that brings out the best in us.

Equality, Diversity, Inclusion, the 'buzz words' organisations across sectors have been using, but how are these words actually being implemented in reality to tackle all the 'isms' that exist in today's society?

Featuring your only BME or disabled person on your website, social media or marketing materials doesn't quite inspire inclusion, especially when the board of directors have a disproportionate ratio of men, women, and people of colour on it. We can see through the façade and know when we are the diversity hire or tick box exercise to increase the EDI stats. Please don't use us to promote you are 'an inclusive employer' when your policies and internal practices are to the contrary.

For the majority of my career, I have been either the only BME person within my organisation or from the minority. I was never able to bring my entire self to work, or proudly share my identity of being a Scottish, Pakistani, Muslim woman. When I first started my career journey, I wanted to fit in and focus on the job I was employed to do. Therefore, microaggressions, racist, sexist or Islamophobic comments were tolerated with a fake smile as I didn't know how to challenge them in fear of losing my job.

However, over the years, I observed the covert and overt forms of discrimination, sexism and racism that occurred in the workplaces which affected me and others from marginalised communities. My lived experience has now become my expertise and valued by organisations that are serious about making their workplace more inclusive.

When I speak to organisations who say they want to increase their diversity, some of the first things they tend to say is:  

  • We don’t know how to reach the marginalised communities.
  • We don’t get many applications from BME people when jobs are advertised.
  • Women aren’t applying for senior management roles.

The onus is automatically put on the marginalised community being hard to reach when they aren't. Perhaps there are barriers preventing them from applying and pursing those career opportunities. As an organisation that is serious about inclusion, you have to actively look for and engage with the communities you want to reach and work with them to remove these barriers.

If you don't know where to start, reach out to a specialist BME organisation such as AMINA The Muslim Women's Resource Centre that has been around for the last 25 years serving women from the Muslim and BME communities. Managing the employability project at AMINA, my team and I are always open to partnership working and can help promote vacancies, skills development, volunteering opportunities, and facilitate focus groups.

Celebrating Inclusion

Of all the places that I have worked, AMINA is the only place I feel I can bring my true, authentic self to work. Why? Because I don't have to explain my faith, my culture, or my feminine issues, I am accepted for who I am; there is a sense of belonging, a shared understanding, and a real family feel. This is what true inclusion should feel like for everyone.

At AMINA, it's International Women's Day, every day! We are fighting for women's equality in all areas of life and celebrate the unrecognised invisible work they do outwith their day job by ensuring our internal policies help them achieve a work-life balance.

In 2024, we should all be doing better at inspiring inclusion. It's a collective and collaborative effort that requires buy-in from everyone within an organisation. It's not a gender problem, a BME problem, or a race problem… it's a societal problem that we all need to work on together. After all, we can all enjoy a cupcake (or two) while being different together without needing a dedicated day to celebrate.

Guest posts do not necessarily reflect the views of Engender, and all language used is the author's own. Bloggers may have received some editorial support from Engender, and may have received a fee from our commissioning pot. We aim for our blog to reflect a range of feminist viewpoints, and offer a commissioning pot to ensure that women do not have to offer their time or words for free.

Interested in writing for the Engender blog? Find out more here.

Share this post on …

Tags: guestblog iwd

Comments: 0 (Add)

You must be signed in to post a comment. If you're already a member, please sign in now.
Become a member


Sign up to receive our newsletter here:

Sign up to our mailing list

Receive key feminist updates direct to your inbox: