The United ReSisters is a grassroots organization that began in April 2017. It was created as a safe place for young Somali women to meet and make connections with other female community members in an effort to build friendships and support systems. We would meet weekly after-school and enjoy tea and snacks while we did art and shared conversation.
The wider mission of building a better community for all female immigrants in Green Bay was on our minds from the start. One of the first projects we did was create a collaborative mural piece that represented our different backgrounds and journeys as a way to start a community conversation. It was through the creation of this mural that the group began to share their journeys and stories with one another. Then in March 2018 we received a grant from the Women’s Fund Organization to support writing and publishing a book titled The First Winter which shares the authors stories to a wider audience.
The group is proudly run by women, for women and follows the feminist view of empowerment written on extensively by Naila Kabeer, Professor of Gender and Development at the London School of Economics. Through this lens, empowerment is seen as a long-term and ongoing process that is focused on social transformation and power inequalities. It is not simply something bestowed upon someone else and, instead, is an internalized awareness that facilitates a process of change (Kabeer, 1999). As leaders, we view our role as one meant to lessen the obstacles these young women face by providing guidance and bridges so they may progress towards empowerment and achieve their dreams.
Kabeer, N. (1999) ‘Resources, Agency, Achievements: Reflections on the Measurement of Women’s Empowerment’,Development and Change, 30 (3), pp 435-464.