The Power Of A Narrative: #WOTUSA Celebrates Muslim-American Women Who Are Shaping The Future

03/21/2017 03:31 pm ET Updated Mar 22, 2017
#WOTUSA is a campaign created by both MALA and The New Agenda as a part of Women’s History Month.
https://www.malanational.org
#WOTUSA is a campaign created by both MALA and The New Agenda as a part of Women’s History Month.

Women’s History Month does not only teach – it inspires. Celebrating women’s contributions throughout history widens our perspectives of the world and how women of all ages, cultures, races, and religions have shaped it. Exposure to their stories also encourages the next generation of women leaders by giving them role models to emulate, whether they be interested in sports, government, STEM, business or other areas. Their examples of overcoming adversity and stereotypes to achieve success serve to empower and guide those that come after them.

The Muslim American Leadership Alliance (MALA) and The New Agenda understand the power of individual stories. This month, they partnered to launch Women of the USA, a campaign that features accomplished Muslim American women in order to celebrate their successes and recognize their heritage. The purpose of the project, as described by Chair of MALA Zainab Khan, is to present “an inclusive platform to celebrate trailblazers from diverse career trajectories and backgrounds. This entire month, and every month, MALA aims to commemorate and encourage the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.”

The women featured range from government officials to CEOs to professors, and their narratives highlight both their moments of triumph and the hardships that preceded them. Ferial Masry, a Muslim-American woman living in California, was the first Saudi woman to run for office – against all odds, she won and made history in the California State Assembly. Dena Mekawi launched Style & Resilience, a media platform that seeks to drive social change and highlight resilience through self-expression, after experiencing judgment for not conforming to harmful stereotypes. Shocked by the gender-based violence she witnessed in her own social circles, Mariam Rauf now works at a nonprofit that serves Asian/Pacific Islanders survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. After years of feeling misunderstood – first by her teachers and parents, and then by society in general after moving to the U.S. – Ellee Bokharachi now encourages others to explore perspectives different from their own by engaging with the pieces made by diverse artists that she carefully curates as the Associate Director of Tilt Gallery. These are just a few examples of the amazing women who have been profiled.

Amy Siskind, President and Co-Founder of The New Agenda, notes, “We want to introduce real stories about women among us, and remind our readers, we’re all in this together.” Their accomplishments are clearly inspirational, but it is the fact that they do not minimize the struggles that accompanied their achievements that make them relatable.

Populating the media with stories that are relatable to an often-underrepresented group is another impactful outcome of the series. Positive representation of minorities in the media is important for the celebration of diversity and for the confidence and self-image of the groups seeing themselves represented. Sharing true stories in which Muslim-American women have powerful, central roles in society increases awareness and appreciation of diversity in the greater population. For the Muslim-American women reading them, it has an even more affirmative, encouraging impact.

As Khan says, “personal stories have the platform to create change.” These stories and others like them that are shared during Women’s History Month not only play a critical role in understanding how women have influenced history, but also in empowering women of all backgrounds today.

GlobalMindED is honored to help showcase #WOTUSA stories as a part of our mission to highlight the importance of creating a diverse, capable talent pipeline. This June 21-23 in Denver, CO, the co-founder and Chair of MALA, Zainab Khan, will be speaking at our conference on the importance of diversity, inclusion, and generous leaders. Join us.

Do you have a story that you want to be shared as a part of the Women of the USA campaign? Submit your information here.

(Coauthored by Emily Laurinec-Studer, Executive Assistant)

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