On 5 March 2013, Women of World Founder and President, Samira Harnish, interviewed on KTalk AM Radio program “Celebrating Women” with Cate Allen. Women of the World programs that support refugee women and anecdotes about them in this heartfelt interview. What is the objective of the organization?
Women of the World strives to support women of all nations to achieve their dreams.
In order to do this, we must develop women’s skills
and as the head of the household)
and give them a voice
(by advocating and serving them in their
and legal needs).
What motivated you to start the organization?
As a young girl in Iraq, I dreamed of the day where I would be able to help women that had struggled against cultures that did not give them an equal chance or that had oppressed them.
I have always served women and girls, even before starting Women of the World,
but as I saw Iraqi women coming to Utah as refugees, I knew that I had to do more for them since
I knew the language (Arabic) and the culture they were coming from.
How long ago was it started, and how many people participate in the organization?
I started Women of the World almost 2 years ago and there are about 10 volunteers supporting over 150 refugees, mostly women and girls.
What kind of activities does your organization hold, and what is the purpose of those activities?
Women of the World holds numerous activities that educate and entertain, that support women’s issues and develop their skills.
Some of these include our English Language Learner classes and tutoring sessions, that each occur twice per week.
We also have a mother’s day event and an International Women’s Day Event that celebrate women’s roles.
Our Refugee Fashion Show celebrates the beauty of women and the diversity of refugee cultures.
We also have workshops on
and have recently spoken out and educated on domestic violence with our 1 Billion Rising Events.
Tell me about some of the women you have helped through the organization.
Women of the World has helped some amazing women. I want to stress that while we have certainly done some “big” things which I’ll talk about, we also assist with the much needed little things that add stress to our refugee ladies.
I get asked to
read and explain a lot of mail,
to call into the food stamps program,
or to attend parent-teacher conferences.
One of the ladies that I have done all of these “little” things for and some big things like
translating in her ongoing fight against cancer
and helping her to get her driver’s license
is now volunteering with Women of the World, using her driver’s license to transport refugees in need.
Her son, came to America as a teen and fell behind in school and in with a bad group,
but seeing his mom empowered led him to pursue a different path – he is now studying nursing
Another of the women I nurturingly call “my ladies” started in a room in her nieces house.
Afraid to disrupt the family balance, she never went out of her room or took meals with them.
She came to me, desiring a job, and quickly we got her one.
Through her hard work as a hospital janitor,
she was able to rent a small apartment
and we worked together with immigration to get her husband to America
and I’m glad to report that just this last Monday, he arrived from Ethopia where he was greeted by his independent, loving wife.
Because my path to success as a new immigrant was through education, I have a special place in my heart for those that succeed in school.
I have worked tirelessly with the financial aid programs at the universities and community colleges in Utah to get grants for women refugees.
I happily report that we are getting women into school for 100s of dollars per semester, 10X reductions in pricing.
These women are succeeding in their studies.
8. What are WOW’s goals for the future?
We want women to be empowered to achieve their financial, family, and community goals.
We want women refugees to be equipped for the future,