Kitchener-Waterloo

What local service providers need to do to ensure accessibility for Muslim women: report

The Coalition of Muslim Women of K-W is making recommendations to local service providers to ensure Muslim women in the community have equal access to supports.

Report referred to findings from a community needs assessment

The Coalition of Muslim Women KW launched a report this week based of off a community needs assessment. This is a photo attached in the report titled "Creating equitable services for Muslim women in Waterloo region." (Coalition of Muslim Women KW/Creating equitable services for Muslim women in Waterloo region report)

The Coalition of Muslim Women of K-W is making recommendations to local service providers to ensure Muslim women in the community have equitable access to supports.

The list of 35 recommendations was published this week in an online report, which was based of off data collected through a community needs assessment survey.

More than 600 people, nearly 500 of which were Muslim women, shared their experiences and connection with local services providers, such as shelters and employment agencies. Surveys were completed online, over-the-phone to ensure language accessibility and in culturally-diverse focus groups.

It was determined there was a gap between the two.

"There can be a bridge for the service providers and these women," said Fauzia Mazhar, executive director of the coalition.

"What started to become clear … was this idea that the women didn't seem to know a lot of programs and services were available in the community … and even if they had the information, they didn't know when [or] how to reach out," she said.

The assessment also surveyed about 40 service providers.

Recommendations

The recommendations cover several topics including access to services, community harm, domestic violence, employment services, policing and mental health.

Some recommendations include:

  • Service providers should engage with faith communities to offer programs endorsed by that community. They can also benefit from offering interpretation services.
  • Domestic violence organizations are encouraged to post photos of what rooms in a shelter look like and clarify if Halal food, prayer space and interpretation is available. It also suggests looking into the development of a shelter for Muslim women.
  • Employment agencies are encouraged to provide education on how to deal with discrimination and racism in the work place on top of help with resume and cover letter.
  • Mental health service providers should build stronger relationships with faith leaders to increase uptake of supports.
  • Some of those surveyed showed lack of trust in police. Some recommendations for police services is to establish a direct reporting line for incidents where police are "dismissive, racist or exhibit prejudice." As well, it was recommended police should fund a neutral, arms-length engagement process with racialized communities to hear concerns and ideas for systemic reform.

Mazhar said service providers were invited to the report's launch earlier this week. The report is located on the coalition's website and she hopes service providers will have look and implement change.

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