Image: Garry Knight Image: Garry Knight

The economy serves everyone, or at least that's what politicians hope to achieve and would have you believe. But ask a Muslim woman if they are well served by the economy and you'll probably get a different answer.

A new report by the Women and Equalities Committee has found that they are the most economically disadvantaged group in the United Kingdom. Perhaps not such a united Kingdom, after all.

Muslim women are three times more likely to be seeking employment than the female average, and twice as likely to be economically inactive - not in employment, education or training, nor seeking work.

The Committee went as far as to say Muslim women suffer a "triple penalty" in their quest to find employment. They face discrimination, whether conscious or subconscious, on the grounds that they are a woman, from an ethnic minority and follow Islam.

"The impact of Islamophobia on Muslim women should not be underestimated," the report urged.

"They are 71% more likely than white Christian women to be unemployed, even when they have the same educational level and language skills."

Just 35% of working-age Muslim women in the UK are in employment, but that figure rises to 69% for women generally in the UK. Last year, 58% of Muslim women were classified as economically inactive in the UK. However, 44% said this was because they stay at home to maintain the home. Twenty-seven per cent of women generally in the UK were economically inactive last year.

"The impact of the very real inequality, discrimination and Islamophobia that Muslim women experience is exacerbated by the pressures that some women feel from parts of their communities to fulfil a more traditional role," the Committee said.

"The Equality Act applies to everyone and all women, regardless of faith, should be free to make their own choices about all aspects of their lives, including education, employment and dress, and subsequently be empowered to overcome the disadvantages they may face."

Responding to the report, a government spokesperson said: "We are making progress - for example, there are now 45% more Muslim women in work than in 2011 - but we know there is much more to do."

Name-blind recruitment

The group of MPs called for the introduction of 'name-blind recruitment' - a concept where recruiters don't see an applicants name. This is due to research showing that people with names that sound typically white-British are more likely to be successful at that stage of the process.

Speaking to the BBC, one Muslim woman, who requested to remain anonymous, said she felt discriminated against when she met her prospective employers face-to-face.

The 21-year old said: "There were two phone interviews... and I got brilliant feedback. They said 'You sound absolutely perfect for this role' and said I was very articulate - that kind of thing."

But she described a "change in the tone" when she was invited to the final interview.

"I felt they were strange, and there was a bit of a change in the atmosphere, and that was not a nice feeling for me.

"It has lessened my confidence a little bit when going for face-to face interviews, I definitely think I'm more confident over the phone."