Zara Mohammed: "Being one of the few women in the room, I represent something more than just me"

In Conversation with the first female and youngest-ever head of the Muslim Council of Great Britain.

by Orianna Rosa Royle

On breaking the mould

Once at school we all had to tell a story about ourselves, in any way we wanted. I chose to tell mine as if I was some kind of superhuman fairy. I had pink hair, multicoloured clothes and powers, where I could fly and rainbows would come out of me. Everyone else told a really bog standard definition of themselves.

It taught me that I don't want to fit the mould. Today when I see structure, I don’t feel limited by it. One of the first things I did when I became Secretary General was adding eight women to the National Council. I'm reviewing all the projects. I'm speaking to our members for ideas. I’m changing the brand to be more diverse, young and energetic. We're doing a recruitment drive and helping young people into apprentice opportunities. I want to establish a training and development wing within the organisation because capacity building is so important to sustainability.

On being a female first

You absolutely feel the heaviness of responsibility as any “first”. I've been in leadership roles before and had media experience, but I wasn’t prepared for the extent to which this requires me to be public facing. I feel a heightened sense of scrutiny, that everyone is looking at me.

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