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Funding Opportunity: Research on Muslim Women’s Experiences of Maternity Care

About MWNUK

Muslim Women’s Network UK (MWNUK) is a small charity (no.1155092) that works to improve social justice and equality for Muslim women and girls. We find out about their experiences through research and helpline enquiries. We identify policy and practice gaps and use this information to influence political decision makers and inform our community campaigns. We also develop resources and train women, so they are better aware of their rights. 

About the Research

MWNUK has secured funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to undertake research into Muslim women’s experiences of maternity care in England.

Research Aim

The aim of this research is to develop an in-depth understanding of the experiences of Muslim women who have accessed maternity care in the last five years in England. The main objective when analysing their experiences is to find out whether the women felt they were subjected to discriminatory attitudes and behaviours, what this looked like to them and how they felt it impacted on their health care (e.g. whether it could be contributing to increased maternal mortality and morbidity) so that lessons can be learned to mitigate existing inequalities.  

Background to the Research

The deep inequalities in maternity care and outcomes in England are well documented. Black women are 4-5 times more likely to die during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period than White women, while for Asian women it is 2-3 times more likely to be the case. A number of factors may contribute to poorer care and outcomes for certain groups of women. These include biological factors (e.g. individual physiologies or specific underlying health conditions among women from racialised minorities); structural inequalities impacting on socio-economic status, levels of education and thus capacity to communicate effectively; poor maternity practices and discriminatory attitudes among health professionals; insecure migration status leading to delays in seeking help. All of these can increase the risk of complications and limit access to ante-natal care and information. However, all women regardless of their social background or location should receive equally high standards of care. 

In this research, we focus on women’s experiences of discrimination and bias because it is essential that service providers understand what this looks like so that bespoke training can be developed to challenge / change attitudes as opposed to generic equality, diversity and inclusion training.

Research Questions

When gathering in depth information from Muslim women, questions will be designed to elicit the following information:

  • If and how experiences vary according to differing ethnicities (with a focus on Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian and Black African and African-Caribbean backgrounds), educational levels, ages, language needs and migration status;
  • If and how experiences vary according to types of maternity care e.g. antenatal advice / care; care during birth; and post-natal advice / care;
  • Perceptions of how they are dealt with by and attitudes of different healthcare practitioners
  • The standard of care received;
  • Mental health impact of experiences i.e. how it made the women feel, including whether their experiences affected their further engagement with health service professionals;
  • Perceptions of physical health impacts including: complications, traumatic births; impact on mother and baby’s health

Research Time-Table

We estimate that this research will take approximately 6 months:

  • October 2020 – desk research on BAME women’s maternal health and analysis of the results of the online survey to be conducted by MWN among Muslim women who have accessed maternity care in England over the last 5 years
  • November 2020 – interview women
  • December 2020 /January 2021 – interview women
  • January / February 2021 – analysis of interview data
  • February / March 2021– first draft of report
  • April / May 2021 – final report

Research Location

Although MWNUK is based in Birmingham, the researcher will be expected to work from home and will conduct telephone or video interviews with women across England.

Applicant Profile

We invite suitably qualified individuals to apply such as those with research experience, preferably to PhD standard and who have experience of interviewing women from Black Asian Minority Ethnic backgrounds. The ability to speak a South Asian language (preferably Urdu or Punjabi) is desirable. The post is open to women only, as it is an occupational requirement that the post be held by a woman (Schedule 9, Part 1, Paragraph 1, Equality Act 2010).

Application Time-Table

  • Deadlines for Applications: 12 noon Monday 28th September 2020
  • Interviews: Week beginning 5th October 2020

Remuneration and Scope of Work to be Covered

The researcher will be self-employed and will be paid £12,600 for the research and report which will include:

  • Analysing an online survey on Muslim women’s maternity experiences
  • Contacting women and arranging about 35 interviews
  • Analysing the interviews
  • Writing a draft followed by a final report

Note:  Although MWN will identify the women to be interviewed, the researcher may be required to provide some support to identify women for the research.

How to Apply

Please submit a cover letter explaining why you are interested in carrying out this research, strengths you can bring to this piece of work and experience you have of working with and conducting research about women from racialised minorities. Cover letters should be a maximum of 3 sides of A4. Please send these to contact@mwnuk.co.uk.  By 12 noon  Monday 28th September 2020.