Activist speaks on gender justice


Kriste An/Chronicle

Soraya Deen shares her personal experiences fighting for gender equality and advocating for women who face religious-based violence with the EMPOWER Club in Ahmanson Lecture Hall on Nov. 3.

Kriste An

Lawyer, author and award-winning international activist Soraya Deen spoke to EMPOWER, the school’s intersectional feminism and gender equality club, about the importance of advocating for gender justice Nov. 3.

Deen founded Muslim Women Speakers and co-founded the Interfaith Solidarity Network, one of the largest interfaith organizations in Los Angeles. She received the Los Angeles 2019 Impact-Maker Award for her work in empowering women facing religious-based oppression and violence. Deen is the author of the books “Serve: A Call to Muslims” and “Peace Matters: Raising Peace Conscious Children.”

Deen said that it is important students take the initiative to act against the patriarchy.

Her words were truly awe-inspiring, and as a fellow woman of color, I was deeply moved.

— Tanya Anand '24

“Every day, we have a choice,” Deen said. “All around the world today, there are people who want peace and a better world and yet, do not take action. It is not about waiting for someone else to make change, but how we can take charge. My work focuses on mobilizing young girls to take charge and challenge the patriarchy.  The journey is not simple, of course, [but] as [Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.] once said, ‘If you cannot fly, run. If you cannot run, walk. If you cannot walk, crawl.’”

Tanya Anand ’24 said she is grateful to have been able to hear Deen speak on her work given her deep passion for gender justice and women’s empowerment.

“[Women’s empowerment] has always been a huge part of my life,” Anand said. “Advocating for gender justice has become a huge passion [of mine], and it has allowed me to contribute to the world. It was great to have Deen visit and speak to us about her role in gender advocacy. Her words were truly awe-inspiring, and as a fellow woman of color, I was deeply moved.”

Joie Zhang ’22 said she thoroughly enjoyed the event and looks forward to more speaker events in the future.

“Deen’s perspective [was] inspiring, and it was great to hear from an international women’s rights activist dedicated to helping those facing religious oppression, a field I am not particularly familiar with,” Zhang said.