In celebration of International Women’s Week, MACFEST 2023 presents a range of free, fascinating symposiums and panel discussions both online and in-person which focus on the history, influence and contemporary role of Muslim women across a variety of creative industries and academic fields.

On Wed 8 Mar, MACFEST marks International Women’s Day with three events in collaboration with the Muslim Women’s Art Foundation. At 10am, Manchester Museum hosts a live symposium on Muslim women creatives, in which Dr. Saskia Warren discusses key findings from her new book, British Muslim Women in the Cultural and Creative Industries, confronting and unpacking the numerous obstacles to ending religious discrimination, while award-winning adventure filmmaker Rabia Hussain shares her experiences as a creator and her commitment to providing representation through film, having received accolades for her documentary, Two Deaf Travellers, and the programme This is Deaf.

At 1pm, Women’s Movements, Tradition and Islamic Narratives in the Arabian Gulf  features a captivating panel discussion which offers fresh insight on the Muslim women of the Arabian Gulf, set against the rising role of women in education, politics culture and media across the region and the changing relationship between culture and communication.

The day concludes with a digital event exploring Three Centuries of Travel Writing by Muslim Women, the new book by Sheffield University’s Professor of Global History, Siobhan Lambert-Hurley. The illustrated talk unpacks the first-hand accounts of Muslim women’s travels from the 17th to the mid-20th century, with unprecedented details on the unique perspectives of a diverse group – queens, captives, pilgrims, provocateurs and others – and the stirring cross-cultural empathy found in their encounters, challenging preconceptions through 300 years of intrepid exploration.

On Fri 10 Mar at 6pm, Kuwait-based visual artist and photographer Maha Alasaker joins fellow award-winning photographer and Lecturer in Human Geography at MMU, Dr. Alexis Becky Martin, for Photography: Issues of Culture and Identity, a discussion on the importance of art to the understanding of broad, complex demographical values and traditions while accessing a deeper sense of self through her work, while using photography to examine the impact of a woman’s upbringing on identity and self-worth.

On Sat 11 Mar at 2pm, MACFEST presents In Conversation with Fatima Manji, Author, Broadcaster: A Fresh Perspective, in which the award-winning Channel 4 journalist and newsreader discusses her new book, A Fresh Perspective on British History, while answering a range of captivating questions such as: Why was there a Turkish mosque adorning Britain’s most famous botanic garden in the eighteenth century? How did a pair of Persian-inscribed cannons end up in rural Wales? And who is the Moroccan man depicted in a long-forgotten portrait hanging in a west London stately home? Described as ‘timely, brilliant and very brave’, Manji’s work offers an exposé on the true diversity of pre-20th century Britain and the misconceptions around modern immigration narratives.

Taking place at 2pm on Sun 12 Mar, Afghani Women Artists: Freedom of expression through art unites four female artists from Kabul – Sahra Sarwari, Sanam Azimi, Mursal Ahmadi and Sadaf Danish – in an exciting, poignant discussion on their individual creative experiences, featuring exhibitions of their own paintings, as well as a sobering insight into daily life as women creatives under Taliban rule.

Rounding off MACFEST’s unmissable International Women’s Week programme with a ticketed online event, artist Farwa Moledina joins education consultant Seema Ansari and General Consul of Ireland Sarah Mangan to discuss her intricate pattern artwork – inspired by Islamic Design Principles including recurrence, symmetry and abstraction – which she uses to interrogate Western historical art narratives and their portrayal of Muslim women, charting the influence of European aesthetics on perceptions of Muslim women in contemporary society.

For more information on MACFEST events, click here.

A Manchester Wire Partnership post
Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Mon 6 Mar 2023