The Sisters Project counters negative stereotypes of Muslim women by telling and showcasing the stories of inspiring Muslim women across Canada. 

Created by Alia Youssef



“While teaching others, my ‘imposter syndrome’ disappeared. I found that I was a competent and caring teacher, and that I could be the mentor that I wish I had when I was growing up. I began believing in my abilities as a professor, despite not having had role models who looked like me. I discovered that I could be the kind of teacher that marginalized students needed, and I think that has allowed me to grow into the woman I am today.”

Roshan Arah is currently a PhD (ABD) candidate in Political Science and an adjunct professor in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies at York University. Her favorite quality about herself is that she is “open minded in that I can accept many seemingly contradictory ideas and ways of being without needing to impose my values or views of the world on others. For example, I identify as a feminist and as Muslim, and while some might think that those are contradictory tendencies, I tend to focus on the deeper values of justice and anti-oppression that are at the core of both traditions.” When Roshan and I began discussing stereotypes of Muslim women she told me, “There is no such thing as an archetypical “Muslim woman.” I was raised by incredibly strong women, who had both their own agency and faith in God. I am a feminist today because of who they are and the values they imparted. They were only submissive to God, not to men, and not to the opinions and whims of the people around them.” Talking about other people’s opinions and the fact Roshan is a teacher I asked her how she feels she’s perceived. Roshan told me, “I think I am perceived as a curiosity. I don’t fit into any easy boxes so I think people who are used to categorizing others don’t know how to perceive me. When they find out I am a professor, a feminist, or that I speak French, it makes them do a double take.”

Q&A Feature:

What makes you laugh so much it hurts?

"My sisters and best friends make me laugh constantly. We have a group chat named after a Mauritian bird, the Dodo, where we keep in touch and share silly messages, audio files and pictures (mostly of ourselves doing silly things). My mom is also unintentionally hilarious and I get the best joke material from her."

What is a fun fact about you that you haven’t told me yet?

"I love to sing and play music. I used to play guitar in high school and dream about being in a Ska punk band, like a brown Gwen Stefani."