Ayada Leads understands Active Political Participation as a necessary component of a Representative Democracy. Our purpose is to harness the political & social power of Diaspora women & New Americans so that we can incorporate their values & policies into the public sphere.
Formerly known as the Women Organizing Women (WOW) Network, we re-branded to better reflect who we are:
Ayada, the Somali word for she, better demonstrates our organization’s commitment to inspire Diaspora women, particularly Somalis, to lead & create change in their communities.
We seek to show that passionate, committed community activists have the skill & talent needed to be in public office.
Our Collective History
As a women’s civic engagement organization, we recognize that women did not legally have the right to vote in the United States until 1920 - and women of color did not gain full access to the vote until the Civil Rights Era in the 1960s.
We acknowledge the history of the United States is fraught with racist policies that intentionally disenfranchised large swaths of the population. White supremacy has affected our nation’s domestic and foreign affairs, including immigration policy. Over one hundred years ago, Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1917 which effectively banned Asian, Mexican, and Mediterranean people from entering the United States, along with the poor, political radicals, people with disabilities, and other then-called “undesirables”. Seven years later, Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1924, otherwise known as the Asian Exclusion Act. This law created a quota system which severely limited immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe and Africa, and completely banned Arabs, Asians, and Indians. This law did not affect immigration from Western Europe.
At the same time these racist policies were implemented, the United States was denying full citizenship to African Americans whose descendants were forced into slavery - before the Civil Rights Era in the 1960s, Black Americans were effectively stripped of the right to vote, deprived of labor rights, and forced to use segregated facilities. They had very little, if any, political power locally or nationally.
We Journey On Our Path As We Remain Conscious Of Those Before Us Who Took The Road To Get Here
This all changed in the Civil Rights Era. The power of collective activism resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as well as the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which abolished race-based immigration quotas and forbade discrimination in issuing visas on the basis of race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence. The passage of this law gave space for a new wave of immigrants that would call the United States their home.
In the Era of President Trump, we find ourselves again amongst the politics of immigration and racial justice. In 2017, Trump issued Executive Order 13780, which effectively bans travel to the U.S. from seven countries: Iran, Libra, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, North Korea, and Venezuela. It also slashes the number of refugees the U.S. accepts annually.
Now more than ever it is crucial that people of all identities have a seat at the table. By acknowledging our nation’s history, we are able to contextualize how and why we choose to become politically involved today.
This is why Ayada Leads helps African Diaspora women in particular, and New Americans more broadly, become civically engaged and empowered to run for political office themselves.
"For me, a better democracy is a democracy where women do not only have the right to vote and to elect but to be elected"
- Michelle Bachelet