Community worker Anjum Rahman is a political and human rights activist working for the right of Muslim women, especially speaking against discrimination of Muslims.
Ms Rahman is based in Hamilton and known for her roles in different community organisations as board-member and has spoken for diversity and inclusiveness of Muslims in the community.
“The work I do is with various groups of people, every achievement is the result of a group effort, and I want to acknowledge all the people I have worked with and who have supported me, including my family and friends, my employers and other community members. It is a privilege to be recognised, but I could have done nothing without them,” Ms Rahman told The Indian Weekender.
Ms Rahman was just five years old when she moved to Hamilton, New Zealand with her family. Following her struggle with her cultural identity in her childhood and looked up to her parents for role models.
Ms Rahman was the founding member and the first secretary of the Islamic Women’s Council in New Zealand that brought women of Islamic faith together since 1990.
Over the past two and half decades, Ms Rahman has been a vocal on rights of Muslim women and raised concerns of racial discrimination against the Muslim community and Muslim women in New Zealand, especially after the 9/11 attacks.
But with her work with the community over two decades, she considers that New Zealand has witnessed many positive changes toward different ethnic communities, especially Muslim women, but there is still a long way to go.
“Things are better and worse. There is more awareness about Muslims and their needs, people engage with our community much more, and we are recognised as part of New Zealand society,” Ms Rahman added.
“However, in the past five years, we have noted an increased level of negativity toward the Muslim community, particularly online. This has affected the safety of community members in real life. We also note that this phenomenon is affecting many other marginalised communities, that we are not alone in facing hostility,” Ms Rahman said.
Ms Rahman advises that every individual in his or her own capacity can serve the community and spread peace and harmony.
“There are many ways: get involved in community organisations, particularly those that bring people together or support others. There are interfaith groups, refugee support organisations, multi-cultural organisations, and many others. Another option is to build neighbourhood groups, organise street parties and get to know each other. You can use your social media to provide positive messages and share positive events,” Ms Rahman added.
About what next for her, she mentioned working on a new initiative called ‘Inclusive Aotearoa Collective’.
“With this new initiative, we plan to bring a more strategic approach to ending discrimination in Aotearoa New Zealand. We hope to bring people and organisations together so that they work more effectively,” Ms Rahman concluded.