Who We Are
INTEGRATION ~ SELF-EMPOWERMENT ~ EDUCATION ~ LEADERSHIP ~ SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
When you educate a man, you educate a person; When you educate a woman, you educate a nation.
ANNISAA is a Muslim women’s empowerment organization providing a significant benefit to the Muslim community by empowering Muslim women and girls to effectively address the challenges of integration and self-empowerment through educational enrichment, healthy living, and social development, aiming to serve women of all faiths, race, origins, ethnicities, and abilities.
Our unique approach, applied to both the ANNISAA model and the work of ANNISAA, is based upon five overall principles.
POPULAR EDUCATION/CRITICAL EDUCATION
Popular education is a model that begins with an individual’s personal experience and moves toward collective action. Contrary to traditional hierarchal education where experts hold the knowledge, this model is grounded in the belief that everyone is an expert, and argues that learning is not a top-down process. In validating experiential knowledge, popular education actively engages and empowers the individual in moving towards collective change. The ANNISAA approach favours grassroots and critical educational approaches designed to recognize Muslim women’s knowledge and invites Muslim women to be experts in their own lives.
INTEGRATED FEMINIST ANALYSIS
An integrated feminist analysis recognizes and takes into account the multiple and intersecting impacts of policies and practices on different groups of Muslim women because of their race, class, ability, religion, culture, refugee or immigrant status, or another status. This framework recognizes that Muslim women’s experiences of life occur in multiple and compounding spheres. Employing this analysis from a self-reflexive position, the ANNISAA approach envisions building solidarities with communities and Muslim women. Only by recognizing the different locations and varying histories of individuals can we begin to build relationships and mobilize for social change together.
SOCIAL ACTION AND CHANGE
We believe that individual and/or collective social action can lead to social change, which has the potential to create a socially just world. Our approach to social justice is context-specific: it develops and advocates for alternatives grounded in Muslim women’s realities. In working towards social development, the ANNISAA approach promotes transformative change directed toward altering existing social structures and frameworks. Social action and change are achieved through the sharing of similar and diverse experiences, demystifying issues through education, encouraging and supporting action-oriented living strategies and critical thinking skills.
Working from a positive-oriented lens that emphasizes the assets and capacities of Muslim women’s own realities and experiences, the ANNISAA approach builds on Muslim women’s strengths and community resources. As a starting point for actions, with and for Muslim women, we are not positioned as passive recipients. Rather, they are encouraged to develop their own knowledge as a political process leading to collective action in the community. This asset-based approach embraces a social, political and economical reflexivity and a critical perspective while acknowledging that Muslim women face certain structural barriers not limited to institutionalized racism, poverty, and other forms of structural and personal violence.
The ANNISAA approach is continuously shaped by Muslim women’s input and feedback. A fluid spiral of learning, reflecting, researching, doing and evaluating informs this work on both organizational and programming levels. We are committed to remaining adaptable and relevant to the changing realities of Muslim girls’ and young women’s lives.