CALGARY – Coming to Calgary for the fourth year, hundreds of Muslim women gathered for a day-long conference on Saturday, May 5, to talk about identity, sisterhood, and taboo topics of sex and intimacy.
“There is this really safe space for women to come together and talk about issues that are important to them, whether it’s mental health, sexual health, things that are often taboo,” said Farah Islam, who traveled from Toronto to attend Saturday’s event, CBC reported on Saturday.
“Love it, love the sisterhood, love the energy. I learn so much about our religion this way.”
The Being ME (Muslimah Empowered) conference was founded in Toronto seven years ago and is in its fourth year in Calgary.
Workshops included an introduction to breast health, career networking, and talks about sex and marriage, and healing after divorce.
According to Shaheen Auckbaraullee, one of the conference’s national organizers, the event is intended to foster discussion and empower women to connect with each other and enact change in their communities.
“We wanted to find a platform where we could pull together Muslim women from our community so that they’re able to interact, connect, network, discuss, share and then go back and apply that to themselves and the community at large,” she said.
The estimated Muslim population of Calgary is about 80,000 people. About 1,000 attendees were expected at Saturday’s event.
The event’s 7th Toronto edition was held earlier this year on March 31.
With the #MeToo movement, Muslim women discussions around intimacy have become more important than ever, Auckbaraullee said.
A similar discussion at another conference a few years ago led to the creation of a women-to-women counseling North American helpline (1-866-315-6472).
“It’s not just a conference where we come to have a spiritual high for one day and just go away,” said Islam.
“It’s about creating solutions that are sustainable for the community, what else can we do, what are the next steps.”
Other attendants wished to experience the `feeling of unity and sisterhood with other Muslim women.
Zahra Admani said she loved the energy of women pushing past barriers to talk about important topics.
“I don’t think it’s just Muslim women, people just tend to shy away from talking about intimacy,” she said.
“When people come together it’s a lot of energy, lot of excitement, lot of learning opportunities.”
Souad Farag hosted a workshop to help women market themselves.
“Being ME is where women come and be themselves,” she said. “It’s important to connect women globally wherever they may be.”