The acting head of the Islamic Women’s Council is calling for signatories to a new movement she is launching to fight racism and bigotry.
Anjum Rahman’s Inclusive Aotearoa Collective, which launches Friday, aims to create a national diversity and inclusion strategy to combat discrimination. It will create new initiatives and build on work already being done since the Christchurch terror attacks on March 15.
Hamilton-based Rahman said the mosque shooting horrified people, who were now asking, “What is it we can do?” After thinking about requests for action that had been put to the Government in the past few years, she decided something “bigger and wider” was needed.
“We need something that will help a range of marginalised communities.”
Rahman is inviting people to sign up to the collective at its unveiling on Friday at the Philanthopy NZ summit at Te Papa in Wellington.
Once established, the collective would lead the way in giving direction to other organisations, equipping communities and influencing policy to prevent attacks like Christchurch happening again.
It would seek government support and co-operation, but will be run by community members, for the community, Raham said.
“In New Zealand, there are many potential partners who share our values. Groups experiencing racism and discrimination, NGOs and philanthropy, local and central government, corporates and everyday Kiwis – people want to create positive change.
“We must ensure every person feels safe from racism, discrimination and violence. We must make sure every person feels respected, with the right to have their voice heard.”
The collective would be established in three separate phases – the first would be setting up an interim governance group and finding a host organisation. The second would be developing the diversity and inclusion strategy and the third would be its implementation.
Rahman hopes to have it established by the end of the year and community consultation started. She is relying on people with relevant skills to join her in getting the collective off the ground.
“I am really excited to present it to the conference and see if it will get support. It will be a real shift to the way we are dealing with things currently.
“It is a way of letting people to have a say in their own destinies.”
While the attacks came as a shock, for many marginalised groups discrimination and hate speech was a common occurrence, she said.
Following the attacks, Rahman believed Kiwis wanted to help ensure society was more inclusive.
“For many others that day confirmed, in the most terrible way, a reality they already lived with.”
While motivated to do something in response to the Christchurch attack, Rahman said the collective would be focused at society as a whole.
“Christchurch is always in my mind and my heart. We were the targets this time, it could have easily been a synagogue, a church … anything,” she said.
“There are a lot of people who are suffering so the solution needs to be big.”