The American Association for Arab Women hosted an event to celebrate women. Souad Akib, the founder of the association, focused on bringing presenters to the event that would help women around the community gain independence of their lives. Akib added that she wants “to make it easter to deal with the difficulties of everyday life as immigrants, as women, and as someone who may not speak perfect english”. The three tools The American Association for Arab Women spoke on finance, education, and health care.
Michelle English presented information on how people, specifically women can gain “financial independence”. As someone who has worked in banking for 35 years, English suggested to the audience to write their financial dreams, like buying a house. She expressed how there is a difference between “survival and success”. It is common for people to focus on the survival: bills and living expenses so much, where they forget to plan for success; owning a home, vacations, etc.
Some people coming to America find that there are challenges with getting healthcare, a necessity for people. Sharon Burton, a community councillor from the North Suburban WIC program, came to the event to give advice on healthcare. Being in Massachusetts, specifically in the Boston area, puts people at an advantage to receive good and cheap healthcare packages. Burton explained how “[living in Massachusetts gives people good] access to primary care doctors and pediatricians”.
For example, if people in the Malden community do not want to go into Boston to receive medical treatment, there are community treatments, like Melrose Wakefield Hospital and the MGH Chelsea Healthcare Center.
It seems as though in today’s society, it is a greater struggle to get into a career without a college education. Sharon Burton also gave advice on finding a job.
Statement from Sharon Burton: “Number 1 look around. There are jobs probably right in this area. Talk to people. Ask questions. Secondly, hospitals are a great place for jobs because they are a 24 hour business. Hospitals are open 24 hours a day. So they have to put three shifts in a day. Now you may ask how does that help me. Well, when you’re a mother of young children a 3:00pm to 11:00pm shift might be a perfect job. When we coach people, we ask people if they are looking for a job or the job, and a suggest you look for a job. There is a beauty in something called an internal candidate and when you work for a larger company, hospital etc. and go in at a lower level job, you go in as an internal candidate. Then internal candidate has an advantage when a job is posted.”
In addition, Farah Assiraj spoke on how education could help social interactions between different cultures. As someone who came to America as child, Assiraj felt like she was “missing a lot from teachers”, so she continued later in life working with english language learners.
In Assiraj’s work, she found that many young girls who wear the hijab face social criticism. Some young girls even question if wearing the hijab is worth the harassment. Assiraj expressed how part of the role of people in the community is to teach young girls about confidence and leadership.
Assiraj questioned “how many [books] are written by women authors? How many have a bias? And that the storyline depict themes of women in a way that is not heroic?” To combat “institutionalized ideas of women” Assiraj wants to “encourage parents, students” and people in the community “to seek out the power of women for our young girls; to seek out the voices of those who lead movement”.
Intertwined with the many brilliant speakers, the event also provided music and dance from the Muslim culture. Entertainment included Soumaya Arose, Jamal Sinno, and Nassim AlAtrach.
Overall, The American Association of Arab Women put together an undeniably empowering event. Every speaker was very willing to give helpful tips for not only women but for people in general in the community. The different expressions of culture should continue annually for more Malden citizens and people around Malden community.