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As a group of individuals and organisations, we express our solidarity with the head teachers, staff and parents of children at Parkfield and Anderton primary schools in Birmingham and those elsewhere that are struggling against the onslaught of religious fundamentalist forces. In the face of a fierce and well - orchestrated campaign mounted by Islamists (and supported by other fundamentalist and right wing forces), we defend their courageous struggle to deliver an inclusive education curriculum based on the principles of acceptance, equality and humanity.

The protestors claim that aspects of the schools’ curriculums are incompatible with their religious beliefs. They have used misinformation, intimidation, harassment and abuse to generate fear and to impose their bigoted and homophobic world views on others. We reject their tactics and we reject their claim to speak on behalf of minorities or represent ‘community values’. Many parents from minority communities do not subscribe to their fundamentalist vision, they struggle on a daily basis to give their children - boys and girls - educational opportunities that they never had. They struggle to protect their children from a range of inequalities – racism, sexism, and homophobia - and they believe, as do we that equality and freedom depend on access to education and knowledge.

‘Parent power’ has become a key tool used by conservative and fundamentalist forces to curtail what is taught within schools and to withdraw children from those aspects of the curriculum that do not align with their views. Rather than challenge their anti- equality agenda and fight for children and young people’s right to a full and comprehensive education, some local councillors and MPs are ready to extinguish their rights in order to bolster and appease their own vote banks. The leaders of all the main political parties have also been completely silent. But silence is impunity.

We will not allow fundamentalists of any hue to hijack the education system. This is not about liberal values versus religious values but about those who support equality for all and those who do not. This is not about religious freedom but about the politics of hatred, division and violence. This is not about minority rights but about fundamentalist bids for power and control over people and resources.

We urge all those who care about education to speak up and defend the teaching of equality in schools everywhere. We call upon the government to defend without reservation the right of schools to teach an inclusive school curriculum; to promote equality and age appropriate sex and relationships education for all children and young people; and to properly fund and support state schools to deliver a secular, egalitarian and accessible education for all.

Supported by:
If you wish to support this petition, please send your name, organisation (if any) to Pragna Patel ( so your name can be added to the list of supporters.

Feminist Dissent celebrates 40 Years of Southall Black Sisters: Film Screening of Bhaji on the Beach (1994)

Bhaji poster

Feminist Dissent presents Bhaji on the Beach (directed by Gurinder Chadha) to celebrate 40 Years of Southall Black Sisters. The film will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Pragna Patel (Founding Member of Southall Black Sisters and Women Against Fundamentalism), Gurbax Matoo (Dept of Social Work, Coventry University) and Emily Henderson (Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick). There will be a drinks and refreshment break. All are invited.

Venue: MS0.3 Zeeman Building, University of Warwick

Date: 8th May 2019

Time: 5pm

Feminist Dissent, Sharia and Law: the Academy and the Struggle

Speakers: Alison Assiter, Pragna Patel and Gita Sahgal
Venue: Watershed, Bristol
Date: 4th April 2017

Feminist Dissent Launch


Image Credit: Painting by Yousif Naser "Seasons of Mud" series

We are pleased to announce the details of our launch.

Register quickly to avoid disappointment:

Date: Friday 22nd July 2016
Venue: Rich Mix - Venue 2 (bar area, 4th Floor), 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA, United Kingdom
Doors open 6.30pm for 7pm start
FREE: Open event

SAWCC London, in collaboration with Warwick University, host a dynamic night of poetry, dance, comedy, and music – launching Feminist Dissent, a new journal on gender and fundamentalism.

Following a packed out event in 2014 with Women Against Fundamentalism, SAWCC London join Feminist Dissent to celebrate this unique journal that brings together feminist academics, activists, writers and artists to produce critical insights on gender, fundamentalism and related socio-political issues.

Come with empty bellies with an appetite for a dynamic and creative night. Food provided by Indigo @ Rich Mix.

‘In-Conversation’ with academics: Karima Bennoune and Maureen Freely

Music: DJ Ritu
Dance: Nahid Siddiqui (kathak dancer)
Reading: Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti (playwright)
Comedy: Daphna Baram (comedian/journalist)

RSVP essential.

SAWCC facebook page:

Full presenter info here:

This event is produced by Sonia Mehta as part of the SAWCC London Curators Team – with support by Tamina Davar and Sharmila Chauhan, in collaboration with Warwick University.

Out in School: Gender, Sexuality and Fundamentalism

A Feminist Dissent Workshop

Friday, 1 July 2016 from 12:00 to 16:00
Institute of Advanced Study, Milburn House University of Warwick

Register quickly to avoid disappointment:

This Workshop brings together researchers, teachers, community members, activists and policy practitioners to provoke an in-depth discussion on the question of sexuality (including sexual orientation) and fundamentalist religious beliefs and practices within schools. What kinds of conflicts arise in the interface of individual and communal religious beliefs and sexual and reproductive choice? What kinds of specific challenges do children who identify themselves as bisexual, gay, lesbian or trans come up against in terms of dealing with religious orthodoxies within schools, communities and families? How can educators, policy practitioners and feminists create space for such discussions to be “out”, and what kinds of practices and policies are best suited to ensure the well-being of children and the values of secularism, liberty and human rights? These are some of the questions that the Workshop will seek to explore. We hope you will join us for this important discussion.


Elly Barnes
(Elly Barnes is the founder and chief executive of Educate and Celebrate, an organisation focused on tackling homophobia and bullying in schools. In 2015, she was shortlisted for the National Diversity Awards.)

Ruth Marx
(Ruth Marx has been teaching in Tower Hamlets for 8 years as a Secondary School Religious Studies teacher. In 2014, she completed a Farmington Fellowship at Oxford University investigating the role of the Religious Studies teacher as a progressive force in a secondary school. She draws upon her links with the Inclusive Mosque Initiative, the Safra Project and the Naz and Matt Foundation, to enrich her teaching in Tower Hamlets.)

Razia Aziz
(Razia Aziz has studied and worked professionally in the field of diversity, equality and inclusion for over 20 years as a researcher, writer, coach, consultant, trainer and facilitator. In 2010 Razia co-founded the Equality Academy, an organization that offers coaching, consultancy and training to the corporate sector. Her work and study span the fields of counseling, coaching, voice and bodywork, performing arts and interfaith ministry.)

Udaramati Pope
(Udaramati Pope works in Nottingham Trent University. She has been involved in teaching, learning and research for over twenty years, at all levels from secondary English teaching to postgraduate PhD supervision, and has led programmes of initial teacher education at secondary level. She has worked at the University of Warwick, Newman University Birmingham, Loughborough University and Royal Holloway University of London. She has also recently worked as a consultant for Ofqual, leading the validation of the new A Levels.)

Michael McCartan
(McCartan is a Sexual Health Education Officer at the Rainbow Project Northern Ireland.)

Mandeep S. Sehmi
(Sehmi is a PhD student at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University.)

Places are limited, so please reserve a free place. Lunch will be provided for all those registered.

We are offering 5 travel bursaries to school teachers from any part of the UK, on a first come first served basis. To request one, please email

Feminist Dissent is supported by: the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, the Warwick Impact Fund and the GRP in International Development.

Previous Events

Decoding the Prevent Agenda and its Impact on Education in the UK

Friday, January 15th, 2016

2-5 pm

Institute of Advanced Study, Milburn House, University of Warwick

This Workshop will examine the government’s Prevent Agenda, a counter-terrorism strategy introduced by the UK government, and its impact on educational institutions. Will it succeed in curbing the rise of extremism among the youth or will it further stigmatize young Muslims? Is it discriminatory? Is it furthering “community cohesion” or weakening it? What impact will it have on gender issues within communities of students? Join us for the discussion!
Safrina Ahmed, Warwick Anti-Racism Society
Rashad Ali, Institute for Strategic Dialogue
Tehmina Kazi, Director, British Muslims for Secular Democracy
Goldie Osuri, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick
Wilf Sullivan, Race Equality Officer, Trade Union Congress
Hicham Yezza, Ceasefire Magazine


Poster (Word Document)

Previous Events

Feminist Dissent is a new academic journal. It brings together activists, academics and writers to interrogate the multiple connections between religious fundamentalism and gender. It will open up new ways of thinking about secularism, religious freedom, civil liberties and human rights, nationalism and identity politics, anti-racism and multiculturalism, neo-liberalism, feminist theory and feminist resistance.

At our first event, members of the editorial collective will present the thinking behind the new journal.

- Why feminist dissent? (Rashmi Varma)
- Why universal human rights? (Alison Assiter)
- Why fundamentalism? (Gita Sahgal)

Presentations will be followed by questions, comments and discussion.

Date: Monday 15th June 2015
Time: 12.30pm - 3pm (lunch and refreshments will be provided)
Venue: IAS seminar room (F204), Milburn House, University of Warwick

Rashmi Varma teaches in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick.

Alison Assiter is Professor of Feminist Theory at UWE, Bristol, the author of a number of books and articles and also feminist and anti fundamentalist activist.

Gita Sahgal is a founder of the Centre for Secular Space, which opposes fundamentalism, amplifies secular voices and promotes universality in human rights. ​