The Homegirl Project interviewed Munira Alimire on her journey uplifting and celebrating women of all kinds through photography and other outlets. For our full essay on Munira, click here.
By Aishwarya Babuji
What does your activism look like?
The kind of activism I do is mostly political advocacy. My goal is to wake up every single day and give our elected officials hell when they don’t represent the people. In nicer words: we the people have power, and I want to live in our world where our elected officials remember this. I do a lot of meetings with senators and I arrange a lot of petitioning. Currently, I’m working on SF 1580. This is a bill that will protect refugee girls’ education.
What inspired you to start using the art of photography to uplift and celebrate women?
I didn’t see anyone celebrating how beautiful and wonderful women were around me, so, I wondered, [“Why don’t I start recognizing these women?”] At the start of Black History Month in 2018, I was interviewing several wonderful Black women and sharing their stories. It was wonderfully beautiful and inspiring when I did it, so I just continued.
Do you feel that your identity guides your activism in any way?
My identity shapes my activism! If I wasn’t all that I was, I wouldn’t care about the issues I do. For many, I feel like that they can go to a rally and go home and not think about the issues they protested for. However, I’m living the issues I’m advocating for, day in and day out. I lead a life where I will not survive if I don’t fight for justice. My identity is who I am and as long as I identify that way, I will fight.
Why do you believe that it is important for women to empower women?
Empowerment comes from within. [It’s almost as if] we need to rescue women when [in reality,] each woman is her own knight in shining armor. In the nicest way, the world is a really terrible place at times, and empowered women are shining lights that make it better. [What are] empowered women of color? They’re the most beautiful things to grace this earth.
What advice would you give women who are faced with racism, sexism, or bullying?
If you won’t think about them five years from now, they’re not worth your energy, your emotions, or your anger. People enjoy hurting others; you learn not to let anything bother you when you’re changing the world. However, not caring doesn’t mean letting it slide. Everyone should be able to say, “shut your dumb mouth, that’s offensive.” You can call out anyone and everyone in your life for promoting insensitive behavior. Don’t be afraid to stand for what you believe in.
What inspires you every day?
Ugh this is so easy. I know so many people in my life who are crazy impressive and accomplished, but the ones who inspire me the most are the people who care. Passion inspires me to no end. I love watching people--especially young women--fight for what they believe in and what they’re extremely passionate about. It reminds me what I’m fighting for.
If you had the chance to end one global issue/struggle, what would it be and why?
This question gave me some pause. Should I focus on the biggest issues or the smaller ones I could fix? I dream about a world free of gender-based violence, where 1 in 3 women will not be victims of sexual or domestic violence, where women aren’t terrified of being assaulted as they walk home, where men don’t feel empowered to harass and abuse the women they hold power over, and where practices like female genital mutilation, acid attacks, and honor killings are things we cannot believe ever happened. This will take several lifetimes, but we will reach this point eventually.
The smaller dream is more achievable: I want everyone to be given a name. It may sound a little ridiculous, but there are so many people who are born without names and thus, without government recognition. This especially happens to young girls, who are considered unwanted and thus, they’re never recorded. This limits their opportunities severely.
The Homegirl Project is all about female empowerment and sisterhood. What does it mean to you to be a "homegirl?”
Being a Homegirl means understanding one thing: advocacy for other things takes nothing away from your [causes]. You can be black and you can be a woman and you can be Muslim; all the while advocating for racism, sexism, and Islamophobia, but never ignoring the concerns from DACA advocates or LGBT activists. As a Homegirl, you backup your sisters in the cause to tear down society [and] rebuild a better one in its place. We’ve got so much power together; all Homegirls know this.