Last week Kwantlen Polytechnic University hosted the first Voices of Muslim Women (VMW) Film Festival as well as the first annual Muslim Woman of the Year Awards. VMW creates a space to open up conversation amongst a diverse group of Muslim women. Women of all ages sat together once a week for four weeks to create digital stories highlighting their individual experiences as Muslim Women.
The program was lead by social justice visionary Aisha Amijie. “Digital, visual and multimedia literacies are emerging and invaluable skills that are increasingly being mandated at provincial and federal levels of government and within the educational theory. We can no longer think of ‘literacy’ as learning to read words on a page but must think of it as learning to read and write through photos, video, sound, music, animation, and interactivity.” – Aisha Amije.
Students explored many diverse topics relatable to POC/WOC (people of colour, women of colour) within and outside of the Muslim community. Digital stories tackled social justice topics of race, marriage, gender roles, mixed race families, legacies, body image, and bullying.
“Live your life by your own rules, you do not need to wear a hijab to be considered a Muslim woman”
Participant Sharina Mohammed took a comedic approach to out-dated judgments and expectations Muslim women have placed on them within the household titled “How Round is your Roti”. Sharina hysterically challenged the audience’s perception of a woman’s worth by highlighting how regardless how educated, successful and loving a woman can be, her worth within the community is determined by her ability to complete household tasks such as cooking ethnic foods.
The night was capped off with an award ceremony honoring 5 phenomenal women making strides in the Muslim community. These women have fearlessly played a vital role in facilitating resources, educating students and creating opportunities for effective change here in our city of Surrey. Below are recipients of the first annual Muslim Women of the Year Awards.
Naveen Zafar a TEDx speaker, mentor, and founder of 2 university clubs targeted to connecting and educating the community was awarded the Young women of distinction award.
You can view Naveen’s Tedx Talk here.
Irath Syed who is well known for being a public speaker breaking through moral panics in the Muslim community was awarded the Social Justice and Community Activism Award. Itrath is currently working on her PHD and teaching multiple communities about the different lenses of Islam.
Qamrul Mohammed received the Lifetime Achievement Award for her tireless efforts to bring communities together and her focus on health and wellbeing of the community. Qamrul is a founding member of the Rape Crisis Centre for Muslim Women and works with multiple organizations in Surrey to fight for mental and physical wellness within the community.
Nassim Elbardouh educates and empowers her students by breaking down stereotypical media representations of Islam and women. Nassim received the Education and Leadership Award.
Yasmine Youssef established NISA homes, plays a major role in forming the refugee task force and is the organizer of the first Muslim Women networking event, BLOOM. Outside of her personal strides to unify the Muslim community she is a panelist at SFU’s Muslim Student Association as well has partnered with Muslim Association of Canada to hold a self-defense workshop for women and youth of all ages. Yasmine received the Champion of Women Award.
Thank you to all of the participants and Aisha Aimje for a phenomenal night of informal learning. You can learn more about Voices of Muslim Women and The Digital Lens program here.