10.24.2011

the 15 apa women leader spotlights: urooj arshad

15 Days. 15 APA Women. 15th Anniversary. To celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, we're partnering up with NAPAWF and Hyphen to spotlight 15 Women Warriors for 15 days, sponsored by 15 hosts. Meet today's spotlight:

Urooj Arshad
Nominated by the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance.

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance is a federation of LGBTQ Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander organizations. NQAPIA seeks to build the capacity of local LGBT AAPI organizations, invigorate grassroots organizing, develop leadership, and challenge homophobia, racism, and anti-immigrant bias.

Describe your name.
Urooj, affectionately known as Roojie. My mom named me and Urooj means Pinnacle.

How do you identify?
Queer. Femme. Desi. Culturally Muslim. Fashionista

Your passion issues?
I wake up every day thinking we can do better! We can fight for justice, we can organize and we can fight for our rights. My inspiration comes from people who have forged a brave path before me so I can be who I am today. My mom is one of my biggest inspirations!

Best advice someone has ever given you?
Happiness is also a form of revolution. To attain true happiness we have to work towards love and not fear.

Who's your hero?
I would say for sure my mom! She worked her butt off to make sure I got a good education while growing up in Pakistan. She came to the U.S in her late 40s and worked in a day care center's kitchen and ended up getting repetitive stress injury in both her shoulders. She has also survived breast cancer! She has worked incredibly hard her entire life to make sure that her children can have the opportunities she didn't. I wouldn't be where I am today if she didn't pave a path for me.

Biggest lesson you've learned as an APA Woman?
Many times we are raised to take care of everyone else except ourselves, to not take up space, to stay quiet in so many ways. I had to relearn to take space and to explore my desires. I have learned that this is a life long process and I am happy to be on this awesome path!

What advice would you give to other Asian Pacific American women?
Never forget to take care of yourself!

Why support NAPAWF?
NAPAWF puts the issues facing APA women front and center when often they are pushed to the side. NAPAWF supports local and national organizing around a multi-issue platform that affects APA women. I support NAPAWF's incredible work to make visible and advocate on behalf of and with APA women!

Favorite guilty pleasure?
True Blood and Downton Abbey. All things Harry Potter and Jane Austen. Gaudy, blingy accessories.

NQAPIA says:
As the Associate Director of Equity and Social Justice at Advocates for Youth, Urooj Arshad provides capacity building services to community based organizations working with youth of color. She is a rising star in the Muslim community through her leadership of an international queer Muslim collective addressing the current needs and concerns of LGBTQ Muslims around the world. She recently became the first openly queer participant accepted to the prestigious American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute. At the strategy meeting of our first NQAPIA conference in 2009, her facilitation set the tone that inspired our initial board to step up to leadership.

Donate in honor of Urooj & NQAPIA
Help Team Urooj + NQAPIA in the fiercest fundraising competition in all the land. Click here to donate.

To see the rest of the 15 APA Women Leader Spotlights, go here.