The Sunday Magazine

Shattering stereotypes about Muslim women in Canada

Researchers at the University of Toronto have concluded a landmark study on gender equality and employment among religious minorities in Canada. The results sharply dispute a common stereotype. Michael talks to one of the study's co-authors, Rupa Banerjee, associate professor in business management at Ryerson University
Dr. Rabia Khan in her office in Woodbridge, Ontario (The Canadian Press)

Whether a woman decides to cover her hair, her head, her face or her entire body while going about her business has become more than a matter of her personal choice.  It has become a political football.

In recent weeks, the Prime Minister insisted that during the oath of citizenship, a woman must not wear a niqab, she must show her face. This set off a volley of comments across the country.

A judge in Quebec also sparked controversy when she ruled a woman could not testify in her courtroom while wearing a headscarf, a hijab.

Many who object to seeing women wear any kind of veil do so on the grounds that it is a symbol of oppression. They also believe the tenets of the Muslim faith limit women's freedoms and hold them back from being active participants in everyday life.

According to a recently published landmark study, this is not necessarily true. A team of Canadian researchers analyzed a mountain of data related to gender equity in employment. They concluded that for Muslim women, their religion has little or no bearing on their participation in the workforce.

Rupa Banerjee is a co-author of this study.  She teaches in the school of business management at Ryerson University in Toronto.


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