President Obama and the Arab American Community

Muslim Women Emerging Leaders: Rising Beyond the Ceiling

“As we honor the many women who have shaped our history, let us also celebrate those who make progress in our time.” – President Obama, Women's History Month Proclamation 2014

Muslim Women Emerging Leaders

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Office of Public Engagement organized and hosted a Muslim women emerging leaders event at the White House. The event brought together leading Muslim American women and aspiring young Muslim women to celebrate their aspirations and honor their contributions to our nation to bring progress in our time; hear directly from Administration officials about policies and programs affecting women; and discuss ways to rise beyond the ceiling and become leaders in government, media, business, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

More than 80 women from various states and local universities and high schools participated in the event and had the opportunity to share their experiences and hear from Administration staffers and other leaders in the community.

Key speakers included former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Chief of Staff Huma Abedin, U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Rashad Hussain, Deputy Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls Avra Siegel, and outreach liaison to Muslim American communities for the White House Office of Public Engagement Rumana Ahmed, who all shared their perspectives on women—specifically Muslim women—in leadership across sectors and the role of identity. The main panel was moderated by Hoda Elshishtawy of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who helped organize this leadership event.

During breakout sessions, participants also heard about opportunities and initiatives from White House staff, including Press Secretary for the First Lady Joanna Rosholm, Press Assistant Monica Lee and Senior Policy Advisor for the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Danielle Carnival.

They also heard from other Muslim women in the field, including former CNN executive Maria Ebrahimji, Raheemah Abdulaleem from the Department of Justice, Reema Dodin from the Hill and Founder & CEO of Invest to Innovate, Kalsoom Lakhani.

Opportunity for all, women’s empowerment and leadership, and equality were all issues that brought these women together and what the President has already moved to act on. Read more about President Obama’s actions here.

Rumana Ahmed leads Arab American and Muslim American outreach and is the Executive Assistant to the Director of the Office of Public Engagement.

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