Maymuna Mohamed: "Muslim women, especially, Black Muslim women are at the forefront of every fight and we should be accredited as such"Written by Maymuna Mohamed
Maymuna Mohamed represented the riding of York Centre, Ontario at Equal Voice’s Daughters of the Vote gathering in March, which brought together 338 young women between the ages of 18 and 23, representing each Canadian riding. Muslim Link had the opportunity to interview several of the young Muslim Canadian women who were selected to participate in this historic event, including Maymuna Mohamed.
Coinciding with International Women’s Day on March 8, Daughters of the Vote was aimed at encouraging more young women to become involved in Canadian politics, a space where there are still challenges to gender equity. The young women spent a week in Ottawa on Parliament Hill where they had the opportunity to meet the Prime Minister, past and present Members of Parliament, and women leaders in the fields of politics, law, and technology.
Somali Canadian Maymuna Mohamed is a spoken word artist out of Toronto and has been noted as a storyteller like no other. Her Artivism portrays a special narrative that always leaves the crowd wanting more. She's opened for legendary hip-hop band, The Roots and performs and slams all around The GTA. She facilities poetry workshops that inspires many young women to pursue their passions. Maymuna is studying Health Policy at York University with plans to pursue a career surrounding the improvement of women's health in Canada. She's the cultural liaison for The Somali Students Association at York University and is readily engaged on campus. She was recently appointed to the board of Equal Voice Canada.
What was it like to represent your city at this event?
I was honored to represent my federal riding of York Centre-one of the most diverse ridings in Canada. I made sure that during the conference the voices of marginalized people were present. I practiced this by asking Minister Mckenna how her work is going to reflect her claims of being inclusive to Muslim women that we’re not here for politicians talking the talk we need to see you walking the walk. I even made sure that the Black experience involving mental health would be addressed, if we’re being promised an inclusive and intersectional space-we should speak up when the reality doesn’t reflect that. I also shared some poetry emphasizing the difficult narrative of being a Somali woman in Canada. All in all, I feel I did a good job representing the people of York Centre, my work is not done and I look forward to serving my riding for the next four years.
What were some highlights for you from the event?
My favorite part of the Daughters of The Vote conference was on International Women's Day when 30 of us were selected to make statements in The House of Commons about an issue we cared about. I made a statement on the need for paid menstrual leave to be added to Canada's Leave Policy Manual. The amount of pain that often accompanies menstruation and menstrual related disorders can be disruptive to one’s daily life. Being forced to come in to work and school with agonizing pain is dehumanizing, and reduces productivity. The response I received re-assured me that I have nation-wide support in my fight for equitable health rights.
When delegates were making their statements I felt the room was filled with an intense amount of emotion and truth. Some of the issues addressed were never acknowledged in the House of Commons before and probably will never be again. To me, it was a special day because a narrative other than white feminism was explored. It truly showcased how our power can be amplified when we’re united in one platform.
You can watch my statement in The House of Commons online.
How would you like to see the voices of young Muslim women leaders better incorporated into both Canadian life but also Muslim Canadian life (ie Muslim organizations, mosques, etc).?
I believe that we have to take it upon ourselves to make our voices heard, to demand space and not to wait around for it to be handed to us through tokenization. People like to view Muslim women as submissive and oppressed, so often times people think it’s outside of the norm for us to be the loudest in the room. But I for one do not care, I will be the loudest and I will call everything out. Muslim women should not have to feel the need to prove their innocence or conform for the sake of other people's comfort. Muslim women, especially, Black Muslim women are at the forefront of every fight and we should be accredited as such.
You have been recently appointed to the board of Equal Voice Canada. What does that mean to you?
I was recently elected as a director at-large for Equal Voice. I’m currently serving a two year term. Being elected was a very pleasing moment to me. It reminded me of all the femmes that came before me and how their resilient actions brought me here. That they’ve paved the way for Black women in politics and now it’s my turn to do the same for future generations. Many women like me aren’t exposed to these kind of opportunities and now that I have this position I hope to shift that. I didn’t imagine during my week in Ottawa as a Daughter of the Vote that’d I’d join the board of directors for Equal Voice, but I’m here and I’m ready to put in the work while holding both titles close to me.
Follow Maymuna on Twitter here
- Daughters of the Vote on Parliament Hill Daughters of the Vote on Parliament Hill
- "To me, it was a special day because a narrative other than white feminism was explored." "To me, it was a special day because a narrative other than white feminism was explored."
- Black Women in Politics Black Women in Politics
- "...my work is not done..." "...my work is not done..."
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