The Sisters Project

Alia Youssef

2016 - 2019


I grew up being ashamed of my identity—my background and my religion—all because of the connotations that came with it. Since before I was born through Donald Trump’s horrifying travel ban and beyond, certain representations of what it means to be Muslim have circulated in media and literature. These images repeatedly depict a voiceless, demure, oppressed woman who is a victim of her patriarchal religion—a sad-looking veiled woman who needs to be “saved.”

I knew this wasn’t my reality, and it certainly wasn’t the reality of my mother, my sisters, or the women around me. But these images stamp a one-dimensional image on every Muslim woman, all 850 million of us. And they put Muslim women in danger, especially those who wear a veil, a marker of their religious identity. In Canada, these false representations have helped motivate a 42 percent increase in hate crimes against Muslim women over the past few years, and have contributed to building widespread Islamophobia.

This is why I created The Sisters Project, a photographic series of Canadian Muslim women. I want to counter the idea that we can be painted with one brush. Instead, I want to tell the diverse stories of their everyday lives. Whether she is a kinesiology student considering medical school, an ESL teacher who eases new immigrants into Canadian life, or the program manager at Ecotrust, working tirelessly to preserve the British Columbian rainforest, each one of these women is part of the fabric of contemporary Canadian society. This project subverts labels and false associations, counters incorrect narratives around voicelessness and lack of agency, and shows women who are in control of their lives.


View full project here:

{{ readMoreButton }}