Queens-based nonprofit focuses on empowering women through self-defense, financial literacy and healing

Queens-based nonprofit focuses on empowering women through self-defense, financial literacy and healing

Meet the new crop of New York City power women - Malikah is a Queens-based nonprofit focused on empowering women through self-defense, financial literacy and healing.
Rana Abdelhamid founded Malikah in 2010 in response to post-9/11 Islamophobia and gender-based hate crimes. In high school, she was attacked by a man in the street who tried to pull off her hijab. 
“I am very talkative, but my parents say I didn’t say a word for a whole day. I didn’t say a word because I was in shock,” Abdelhamid recalled to News 12 New York. 
Abelhamid says starting Malikah helped her reclaim her voice.  The idea was modeled by her female Muslim elders. 
“We model what we have seen growing up of creating intentional healing circles,” she said. “Where Muslim women and women could come together and talk about their experiences either with sexual harassment at work or with domestic violence at their home or with hate-based violence walking down the street. Our healing model understands you heal more effectively in community and together.”
Besides self-defense classes, Malikah hosts financial literacy workshops and events like henna nights in a duplex office space on Steinway Street.  Abdelhamid’s mom, Mona Elboghdadi, says she had barely any resources when she came to Queens in 1991.
“I have no knowledge about politics, about how to get a job, where I could learn English, I had no idea where to start my life. I need to go to college, I don’t know how, I need to start a career, I don’t know how...I don’t want people who come now to have the same experience,” Elboghadadi told News 12 New York.
Abdelhamid says helping Muslim women in Queens specifically is her greatest joy.  She’s a proud Queens native and is so tied to her community she wears an old-school Queens nameplate necklace.
“Being a Muslim woman from Queens is really really special because there are Muslim women from every single part of the world here. There are Egyptian Muslim women, Guyanese Muslim women, Benghali Muslim women, Indonesian Muslim women ... it’s so nice to be able to share culture and experiences, but also have that similarity of our faith,” she said.
Malikah is Muslim-led, but it’s open to all women. Abdelhamid – who is a graduate of Townsend Harris High School in Queens – hopes to bring Malikah’s self-defense classes to New York City public schools.