HEART Women & Girls promotes sexual health and sexual violence awareness in Muslim communities through health education, advocacy, research and training.
We work toward a world where:
- Women and girls are valued for their character and personhood, rather than their body type, skin color, or what they choose to wear
- Women are free of guilt, shame, oppression, and violence, so that they are able to make informed and empowered decisions about their sexual health that aligns with their values
- Gender equity is celebrated, consent and boundaries are honored, and space is made for those in need of support and resources.
As a Muslim-led organization, our core values are rooted in the Arabic word rahma (mercy), and reflected in the acronym below. We create inclusive spaces for women and girls and give them the resources they need to live out their values in the way they choose.
Rights: Muslims have the right to accurate, culturally-sensitive sexual health information and victim-centric resources and services. We will reflectively listen to you to honor those rights.
Agency: Our programming offers participants with the space and affirmation to critically examine their personal values and faith, while equipping them with the resources and skills they need to strengthen their personal agency and feel in control of their bodies and spirituality.
Healing: We are committed to building safe spaces that honor your faith and cultural values while replacing blame, shame, and stigma, with openness, support, and healing.
Mindfulness: As trained professionals, we will maintain your privacy and are mindful of the cultural and political context and how it can impact the lived experiences of Muslim Americans.
Anonymity: Because issues around sex, sexuality, and sexual violence have historically been stigmatized, we make every effort to ensure participants’ anonymity and privacy while offering resources and information.
We believe that individuals of all ages can and do make informed decisions about their sexual health when they have accurate information and systems that foster real choice.
Health Education: We provide accurate, culturally-sensitive health and sexual violence information through in-person workshops and our virtual resource center to empower participants to make informed decisions and become agents of change within their own communities. Catered to all ages from adolescent to adult.
Advocacy: We believe that you should have all the information necessary to make decisions about your sexual health, and that we need to build systems that foster real choice. We have trained anti-sexual assault advocates to work one-on-one with survivors, and we also work to advocate for systems-level changes that dismantles the stigma that prevents individuals from seeking sexual health information.
Research: We collaborate with academic research institutions to better understand the sexual and reproductive health needs of Muslim communities
Training: We offer leadership and professional development trainings to equip student leaders and other professionals to better serve the sexual and reproductive health needs of Muslim communities.
As a consultant for the Office on Women’s Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services, HEART co-Founder Nadiah Mohajir was asked in 2009, along with her colleague Ayesha Akhtar, to coordinate a health and wellness day for Muslim women in Chicago. More women than they ever imagined signed up for the event, which brought together many diverse women and girls and their incredible stories.
The Qur’an instructs Muslims to stand up for justice, even if it means challenging one’s own community. For years, we have heard Muslims share their struggles with body image, depression, unhealthy relationships, sexuality, and all too often, sexual violence. They have spoken to us about not having access to culturally-sensitive information and resources, and feeling apprehensive of seeking out these tools because of the shame associated with discussing sex and sexual violence in Muslim communities. While these individuals were different ages, ethnicities, and education levels, they all had one thing in common: They were never giving personal agency or the tools to think critically about their bodies, sexuality, and faith. They navigated this world, often times, alone, and in silence. This silence is unjust and contributes to the gender inequities and violence in our communities.
HEART Women & Girls was founded to break this silence. It seeks to provide a safe space to come together—both virtually and physically—to learn about their bodies, exchange health information, and become resources of health information for each other and their communities.