SuperSisters is a global media platform for young Muslimahs in the East London and beyond to share and create inspiring and empowering content with positivity at its core.
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Hi guys, this is the JGO team here, as you may be aware, there are a lot of accusations and rumours swirling around the SuperSisters project right now and we wanted to get a chance to address them here head on.
TLDR: Are “middle-aged white men” behind the content of the SuperSisters platform?
No. Completely false.
Up until Saturday the SuperSisters Project was led by a Muslim woman, who had full editorial and content control of the platform. Before that the SuperSisters Project has always been led by women. As we’re sure many of you are aware of by now, the SuperSisters Project Manager and Social Media Manager resigned her position on Saturday morning. We are sad to see Sabah go and thank her for all of her hard work to make the SS platform the success it has become.
We will recruit a new project manager asap and ensure that they are a representative leader of the project. We will still advertise our community events.
Addressing the rumours.
Who are we? What are we trying to achieve?
SuperSisters is a platform for Muslim women to share and create inspiring and empowering content, promoting women’s empowerment and equality, inclusion of British and other Muslim women with a diverse range of views.
SuperSisters is run by JGO. We are a not-for-profit Community group based in the east end of London for 20+ years. We have long history of engaging with the Muslim communities in East London, and we are proud to work with people from a range of backgrounds, races and faiths, as this diversity makes us who we are.
SuperSisters was started as a project by a Muslim woman employed by JGO. The project was conceived with community involvement from the start (by speaking to Muslim girls in the Tower Hamlets community and asking them what they wanted to see as a response to Shamima Begum’s actions in 2015). Most of the community who we talked to asked us to set up a website and blog to feature the positive stories representing their community and the successful Muslim women within it. We are a small organisation (micro SME, sometimes less than 4 employees), so at points this has meant there has only been one person that runs the SS project. We are very proud with the limited staff we have had to see the project grow to the extent it has.
Given our origins, we have had from the very start, Muslim women involved in our organisation, as key employees, supporters, volunteers and as J-go Training Board members.
We see ourselves as facilitators, who created a platform for Muslim women to come and speak about issues on their own terms.
The directors of JGO (i.e. Jon and Jan, as has been shared) have never had any creative or editorial control of the platform, as it has been run by a core SS team throughout its life. The people responsible for the “message” and “editorial direction” of SS has always been the head of SS.
Here is how the team at JGO is composed:
Core SuperSisters Team:
Project Manager and Social Media Manager – responsible for creative control of SuperSisters platform and for sourcing network of contributors to the platform (formerly Sabah Ismail).
- Blogger contributors (always Muslim women)
- Events coordinator (a woman)
- The core SuperSisters team has always been representative of the project’s demographic.
All of the other staff at JGO provided a purely facilitative and support role (videographers, graphic designer, accountant, receptionist, tech support, directors) who took their instructions from the PM’s creative vision. They had no control over the content’s direction.
We see the SuperSisters platform as centred around three complementary identities:
Successful Female, Muslim, British. We try to represent each identity equally, and therefore the balance of content that is posted tried to reflect that.
We want to show that all three identities can happily coexist in any single individual.
- The platform promotes gender equality particularly and the broader point of inclusion and opportunity within the UK for Muslim women
As Sabah has mentioned, where she wanted to increase the number of posts with an explicitly Islamic and theological thrust, we felt that as JGO is NOT an Islamic organisation, and never claimed to be, it would be wrong to wade into any theological or doctrinal discussions. We didn’t want to pose as someone we are not. We do not believe this makes us “anti-Muslim” as has been claimed.
We also wanted to explicitly stay well clear of the “securitisation” type content as has been claimed, but we will let the content speak for itself.
Who is SuperSisters funded by? Why did you take funding from the government?
- We apply to many different legitimate funding sources to run our projects because we believe they are important. We have accepted funding from the Building a Stronger Britain Together, because they agreed to fund us, while allowing us to maintain full independent control over the platform, what we do and how we do it.
- We take grant funding as we are proud to pay a fair, London Living Wage to all our staff, and we want the projects to succeed.
- The BSBT programme is a government funded programme aimed at strengthening inclusion and – yes – countering extremism.
- Countering extremism for us is about sharing an alternative narrative to highlight positive stories coming from a diverse contributor network.
To us, British values are all about plurality, we want to emphasise that we are all about accepting communities “as they are”. We do not want to change the Muslim identity. Instead, we want to highlight the plurality which exists within the Islamic community. We want to show that Muslim values are also British values – i.e. both can accommodate a wide diversity of views and identities.
We did have some early funding from Prevent, as stated transparently on our website. But what we did was not deemed suitable for the Prevent funding, so the funding ceased. We continued with SuperSisters regardless (during all of 2018, from our own resources) and will always continue remaining true to SuperSister’s editorial integrity and independence. We want to emphasise that: even though BSBT may fund us, they do not have any creative control over SuperSisters content.
Where we acknowledge we went wrong, and we apologise for it, is not more clearly stating the source of funding on the SS Instagram and blog, not just our website. We have always been clear and transparent at the interview stage on how we are funded, including at Sabah’s interview.
As part of our mission to promote inclusivity and plurality, we welcome all criticisms and discussion, so please come and speak to us directly. We are happy to be guests on platforms which wish to discuss all aspects of our platform (including CE) or if you would like, we are happy to feature you as a guest on our platform!
We think that having a representative project lead is very important. So, as Sabah’s resignation was not expected we will be briefly pausing posting of any new content until we recruit a new project lead.
We are a welcoming, inclusive platform, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch!