HEART’s Journey

 
Mission & Vision

HEART Women & Girls promotes sexual health and sexual violence awareness in faith-based communities through health education, advocacy, research and training.

Our vision is to improve the sexual health literacy of Muslim communities and facilitate healthy sexual attitudes, behaviors and relationships to ultimately build healthier communities.

We “leaders of wellness,” who are young girls and women inspired by their faith, to be a voice for health and wellness in their communities. Our various programs create leaders of wellness who:

1) Pass it on: These leaders exhibit their critical thinking and storytelling skills by passing on the knowledge and experience they gain through HEART programming.

2) Take the Pledge: These leaders make a personal commitment to a holistic and healthy lifestyle, adopting the pledge they created in a HEART workshop.

3) Make it Happen: These leaders take their commitment beyond themselves and empower their community through organizing and leading community dialog and discussion.

History

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. As such, HEART learned about women and girls who:

  • couldn’t identify basic anatomy or common medical issues such as yeast infections
  • engaged in risky sexual activity, not knowing the risks due to lack of sex education
  • were unable to identify sexual abuse when it was happening
  • struggled with intimacy and experienced sexual frustration in their marriages

For the last six years, HEART co-founders have listened keenly to many more stories of women struggling with body image, depression, eating disorders, unhealthy relationships, peer pressure, sexual experimentation, and sexuality. There are countless stories like the ones shared above in every community, including Muslim communities in the United States. While the women who shared their personal struggles were extremely diverse, all of them shared one common quality: They never were given a space to explore values and expectations and how it relates to the American experience and the Muslim experience. They were never given the tools to negotiate discussions about their bodies and sexuality because, quite simply, there was nothing to negotiate. They navigated this world, often times, alone, and in silence.

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.