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The Sisters Project combats negative stereotypes of Muslim women by showcasing the diverse stories of inspirational women across Canada, while also creating a space of inclusion and belonging for all self-identifying Muslim women to embrace and celebrate their unique identities

Created by Alia Youssef

Kohawar

Kohawar

“My biggest hope is for young people to be more empowered in all communities. Their empowerment is for the betterment of the future.”

Kohawar is 26, works for Islamic Relief Canada as their Calgary Coordinator, and works in the Ministry of Community and Social Services. She also actively volunteers at community events and various local and international initiatives. Her proudest accomplishment is “being able to travel to the Rohingya camps and being able to bring awareness on the issues that some forget about when it is not highlighted in mainstream media.” She continued, “I was really able to see the privilege that I have and from there I can see what I wish to do with that privilege. As a young person, we sometimes forget how lucky we are and being able to experience that not only broke my heart but gave me more of a purpose in life.” Kohawar’s favourite quality is her empathy, she continued “I think the world is lacking empathy.” One thing she knows for sure is that “love is an innate tendency that we all have. I think we live in a world where there is a lot of negativity but if we return to our innate tendencies, the world would be a better place.” When I asked Kohawar what her most challenging experience has been she told me, “my disconnect with my culture for a significant portion of my life. I knew the main things, but when I went back to Pakistan, I realized that I was disconnected in the sense where I couldn’t speak the language. I questioned at a young age why I was running away from who I was. I knew my friends wouldn’t accept that aspect of me, so I hid my culture and would not have friends over.” Kohawar told me a pivotal moment for her was when she embraced her culture and identity because that’s what made her who she is today. She continued, “it’s what I wish for everyone. Be who you are and never look back. It’s what Canadian identity is about.”

Q&A Feature:

What is something that inspires or motivates you/ or an inspiring message you would like to share?

“Someone that inspires me is my mom. I have seen her champion through so many adversities in her life. She has always told me to do my best and that if I do my best and things don’t work out, it wasn’t meant to be. She always says “You make plans, and God makes plans” this always helped to make sure I was not discouraged when things didn’t happen the way I had perceived them to be. My mom and mentors always say to be during difficult times that “with each difficulty comes ease” which helps in encouraging me when I am at my weakest.”

What is most important to you and why?

“Family and respect. Family because they make me who I am and who I am not, and I believe my family has always been my support system to through everything that I do. Family doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be related because friends who become family is something that I cherish very much and they are my family just as much as those who are related to me. I think respect for every person that you come across is lacking now a days and it is something that my parents have instilled. Regardless, if someone approaches you and is not the most respectful, we may never know what that individual is going through and therefore your response is very vital.”

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