MALIKAH is a grassroots movement that facilitates opportunities for women to come together in sisterhood, to engage in critical reflection and education, to build habits of self-love, and to cultivate action-oriented communities prepared with the tools and skills to clap-back.
In 2010, before she left her home, our founder, Rana Abdelhamid, stood in front of a mirror wrapping thick fabric around her head, the way her mother and grandmother did before her. Each wrap carried history, femininity, tradition and weight. She was only 15 years old, but already understood too well the stories of the women in her life: female genital mutilation, sexual abuse, assault, domestic violence, resilience and strength. As she walked through her heavily policed Queens neighborhood in hijab, she felt the weight of people’s eyes glaze over her. Then, it happened. A tug at the back of her scarf. He grabbed her, trying to yank her hijab from off of her head. She turned around to a tall, broad-shouldered man. Pure hatred in his eyes. She struggled for a bit, but managed to get away. She hid herself in the shelter she had been volunteering at, crying. She had just experienced a hate crime. She wished her body didn’t carry so much of her. Rana, like many women, felt insecure and unsafe. Her body felt powerless. She felt alone.
It was in this very moment of loneliness that the vision of MALIKAH was born. But it was the history, the work, and the power of black, brown, revolutionary and indigenous women that inspired our founder to believe in a world where all women can feel safe in their own skins. Six months after the incident, Rana began to train girls in her neighborhood in self-defense and create organic gatherings where young women in her life shared their stories and healed. It started with 13 in a dimly lit, freshly painted basement of a community center. She stumbled through the first few words, but then she thought about what brought her to that moment and that’s when she shared her story. Then everyone started to share their stories, and for the first time, we felt safer. And something powerful happened: amidst this sisterhood, we found our voices.
These women trained more women, who then created safe spaces in their own communities. Even with rejection from their own leaders and families, they pushed for this vision. For eight years, women in our communities have trained thousands of other women, across seventeen cities around the world. And this is how the movement was started; organically grassroots, through community building.
Today MALIKAH trains women/femmes in self defense, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, organizing, and healing. We're all about building power and capacity for women/femmes around the world.
We are building this movement only for you, our sisters who have been historically undermined and marginalized. And for our sisters who grace the front covers of magazines, who’ve written books, ran for office, started companies and led freedom movements. This is for our LGBTQ, black, latinx, indigenous, disabled, working class and convert sisters. You all inspire us. This movement is for our Amis and Mamas our sisters and Khalas. Ultimately, this movement is our our expression of deep love and gratitude to you.
As we build this movement together, we recognize that this one movement is part of a broader gender justice movement; one that has been globally and historically lead by black, trans, working class and indigenous women. We know that alone we cannot dismantle the violent rhetoric and policies that we all face, and this is why we must work with all of our sisters and partners.