In 2010 the Women’s Initiative for Self Empowerment (WISE) began as a youth group with thirteen young women in the basement of a youth center in Brooklyn, NY. Years later it seems like women everywhere are beginning to join in on the WISE movement. WISE’s main program “Mentee Muslimah,” a self-defense, social entrepreneurship and leadership summer workshop has recently been hosted for the first time in Dallas, Texas. For one long week, a group of young ladies, led by Damascus University graduate, Kinda Darwish, and UT Dallas graduate, Nada Alasmi, engaged in extensive leadership, confidence building and social entrepreneurship trainings. In addition to the excitement of having a new chapter, we are more thrilled to be working with Darwish and Alasmi. Darwish previously worked with the United Nations Population Fund, with a focus on gender issues. Alasmi is a member leader at Ignite Women in Politics and has extensive background working with survivors of domestic violence. Together, they were able to leverage their experiences to build a space where every young woman was able to step out of her comfort zone.
During the week in Dallas, Texas, the Mentee Muslimah participants engaged in team-building activities and self defense sessions. They also received a special visit from Sameena Karmally, one of the very few Muslim women to run for public office in the entire country, and Dr. Hind Jarrah, the Executive Director at Muslim Texas Women’s Foundation. They both shared their own experiences in professional spaces as Muslim women and inspired the young women to take action against any obstacles they may face as women in the work space.
“Even if I didn’t know the girls, I knew that I was in a “safe space.” I could pour my heart out without fear of judgment and I grew to become more confident. I was able to improve and overcome my timidity, which I consider a huge milestone,” said one participant of our Texas program. On that note, to all of the young women in Dallas, Texas: congratulations on an incredible week of hard work and growth! There is a glass ceiling to break and we are so excited to see you all make the WISE move.