NEON Spaces Spotlight: Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment (RISE)
In 2011, Nausheena Hussain entered the nonprofit world as a newly minted grant writer.
She observed in the Muslim community that there was an abundance of charitable giving and wealth, but it was all individual donor based. She also noticed women were donors, doing the work, but never acknowledged or in leadership roles. Coupled with anti-Muslim rhetoric, a rise in discrimination and hate towards Muslims, she realized something needed to be done.
So, in September 2015, Nausheena met with a handful of Muslim women to talk about female leadership, civic engagement, community involvement, and philanthropy. From these conversations, the women realized we needed to build a sisterhood and through it create more sustainable change.
That was the launch of Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment (RISE). As the network grew, it became apparent that many many women were creating an impact in their communities but were going unseen. Reviving Sisterhood has become a platform to amplify the voice and power of Muslim women showcasing the changemakers, the trailblazers, and leaders having social justice impact in our society. We host networkers, workshops, and events focusing on leadership development, community engagement, and philanthropy.
Through this work, we change the narrative and define the Muslim American Woman’s story.
Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment is on a mission to amplify the voice and power of Muslim women.We imagine a future where all Muslim women are connected, reflected, celebrated and emboldened.
Our sisterhood is built on the open and honest relationships among us.
We celebrate one another through the good times. We anticipate one another’s needs before being asked and fulfill them during the tough times. Because during tough times, true sisters show up. These are the values that guide us:
Resilience: Muslim women demonstrate toughness and strength. Together we overcome adversity.
Representation: Muslim women are visible and effective leaders - we must be woven into the ‘fabric’ of American life. No decision will be made ‘about us without us.’
Relationships: Muslim women are relational. Our connection to each other, and to the communities we represent, make us a mighty force.
Resourcefulness and Self-Determination: Muslim women are innovative, efficient and entrepreneurial; we can build the future we want together.
Faith: Muslim women come from all races, countries and cultures of the world. Our faith tradition binds us together in sisterhood.
Through the following programming, RISE challenges Islamophobia, gender inequalities, and racism: 1. Build a sisterhood, a network that provides personal, professional, and spiritual development to Muslim women in order to grow, contribute and participate in all sectors of society.
2. Taking back our narrative - RISE is reframing the Muslim women narrative by telling our stories ourselves. Our Muslim Sheroes of Minnesota storytelling projective is addressing the negative stereotypes around Muslim women by spotlighting changemakers in our own communities that are having a social impact. Because public perception influences public policy.
3. Leadership development - RISE provides skill building workshops, trainings and events by leveraging local female scholars, professionals, and experts to provide skills based learning activities. When Muslim women see others that look like them, then they realize they have to potential to pursue that role. "If I see it, I can be it." - Geena Davis. RISE also works to place Muslim women in positions of power by serving on boards, commissions, and grant committees. In March, 2017, RISE organized a sold-out leadership conference for Muslim women called Muslim Women Rising.
4. Increase civic engagement of Muslim women within the faith community, schools, cities, and at the state level. They are building relationships with elected officials, understanding the legislative process, taking a position on issues, and advocating and lobbying.
"We came to NEON because we believe incubator spaces are the right starting point for new nonprofits. When you are just testing out ideas, getting a read on the community response, you don’t want to have the burden of managing an office, IT, etc. We wanted a co-working space to be able to connect with other start ups, access to resources, and a supportive environment. And of course, to be able to give back to the Northside. NEON feels like family. We are not just accepted but included in everything NEON does. That feeling of belonging is tough to find in this current political climate."
The future of RISE is a space where all Muslim women are connected, reflected, celebrated and emboldened. RISE works with Muslim women in Minnesota who are active in their communities, looking for ways to engage or want to develop skills to prepare them to create change as self starters, those who step up to the challenge, and are ready to take action and willing to bring others along.