Dr. Hasnaa Mokhtar

Researcher, writer, advocate, and cultural leader with expertise on violence prevention, intervention, gender justice, and sustainable development.

United States

Fulbright Alumna. Feminist. Ph.D.

Executive Director, Wafa House

"Knowledge that doesn't break your heart open to transformation isn't worth learning." Hasnaa Mokhtar, 2021


Media articles

Regional Programme Gulf States
Drop the H-Word

Activism of Khaleeji feminists and civil society organizations have sparked a public discussion of gender-based violence in the Arabian Gulf, demanding accountability for the aggressors and seeking support services for victims. The discourse as to why the problem occurs remains shallow, blaming traditions and honor as the motives for heinous crimes that takes the lives of women.

99 Clay Vessels
Hasnaa Mokhtar - 99 Clay Vessels

Taking Allah away from me They told me that you created me less than because I am a woman...They told me that my headscarf is a symbol of both my piety and my oppression...They told me that you wanted me disciplined, shackled, and beaten...

لماذا تخاف النساء من الإبلاغ عن التحرش؟

بعد انتظار قرابة الساعتين في الطابق الثاني من مبنى إدارة الشرطة المجتمعية في ضاحية عبد الله المبارك، دخلتُ أنا وإحدى الناشطات الكويتيات إلى مكتب الوكيل المساعد لشؤون الأمن العام.

16 Stories of Feminist Activism
Everyday Activism

She wasn't always Muslim. She converted to Islam because it filled her heart with light, she said. Until the day she married a Muslim man. He convinced her that she was worthless while he hugged and caressed her.

Sekka Magazine
Why we need to rethink our Khaleeji parenting habits

"Being a parent...does not mean absolute authority." By Hasnaa Mokhtar I am not the motherly type. Growing up, my daydreams were never about the "happily ever after", or the perfect wedding, or the tons of babies I was destined to have.

Are attitudes on Muslim women shifting?

Hijabis, Muslim women who cover their hair, are a hot commodity in the American fashion and beauty industry right now. In 2016, Colorado native Nura Afia, 26, made headlines when CoverGirl made her an ambassador. She became the first Muslim woman wearing a headscarf to fill the void of representation in makeup commercials.

Unlearning zine (p. 18-20)
To decolonize, is to be reborn

With a pounding heart and shaky hands, I drew my lips closer to the microphone. Oh Allah…I whispered. My voice trembled. I paid tribute to Cape Town, its marvelous people, the Critical Muslim Studies summer school, and everything in between. I chocked here and there. I never realized how much of a “colonial” mess I was and continue to be. My own blindspots. Biases. Ego and judgements. My rotten heart screamed in silence yearning to break free. I was fed lies after lies until...

A journey toward societal change begun by looking within

Beep. New app notification. "Deadliest mass shooting in modern US history"Email alert. "Sexual harassment comes at a cost"Social media tag. "'We only kill black people,' a cop told a woman"Newsfeed update. "Another failed ISIS attack"The ruthless cycle of worldly chaos persists. Vile politics and crimes continue to haunt me.

How America Has Changed The Way I Look At Ramadan

In June, Bustle is partnering with Muslim Girl to highlight the voices of millennial Muslim women as they observe the holy month of Ramadan. Read on as they share stories of how they personally observe this holiday, and why this year's Ramadan is esp

Muslim Girl
This Is What Killing Muslim Women in the Name of God Looks Like

To every Muslim scholar, to every Muslim preacher, and to every Muslim leader who consented to a Muslim man hitting his wife to "discipline" her, you have Hanan Seid's blood on your hands! This is on you! The 26-year-old mother of two was shot to death by her husband, Ahmed Mohamed Abdela on Oct.

Muslim Girl
Let's Talk About the Problem With Masculinity in the Muslim Community

To qualify as "marriage-friendly" material, a Muslim woman is expected to be: Martha Stewart in the kitchen. A combination of Hoover feather duster and mop in cleanness. Scarlett Johansson in sex appeal. Virgin Mary in modesty. Mother Teresa in devotion. Malala Yousafzai in activism and literacy - only for bragging purposes.

Muslim Girl
I Was Raised Under the Grip of Saudi's Male Guardianship System

I know well the feeling of being helpless. I am a woman, and I grew up in Saudi Arabia. I was boxed in. A male relative - father, husband, brother or son - had to sign me off. When? It was a required procedure whenever I wanted to travel alone, renew my personal ID, or accept [...]

A Muslim Woman's First Thoughts After the Paris Attacks

As the brutal attacks in Paris were happening on Nov. 13, scattered thoughts jammed my brain. Please don't claim to be Muslim, please don't let me carry the burden, please don't force me to denounce and condemn... My heart sank as I flipped from tab to tab online reading about the gruesome murders.

Teen Vogue
Why This Muslim Girl Will #PrayforParis, But Won't Apologize

According to a Quartz article, data from the FBI indicates that anti-Islamic offenses have jumped five-fold in the US since 9/11. "Public perception of Muslims is currently low. A 2014 poll by the Pew Research Centre found that Americans had the least warm feelings towards Muslims of any religious group in the country.

Clark Alumni Magazine
Not ‘us’ or ‘them.’ Just us.

I pushed my seven-month-old son, Malik, in his stroller with one hand while trying to fix my hijab (head covering) with the other. I was at the supermarket on a late Wednesday afternoon buying groceries. I couldn’t help but notice an older man fixated on me.

Muslim Girl
The 'Nudity' of Westernized Feminism

I was living in Montreal, Canada in 2010 and attending a French class to improve my language skills. I remember the lively and diverse group of students I studied and conversed with. I also remember the hot days of that summer and the challenge of having to wear my headscarf and modest clothing in high [...]

Trapped in the name of religion

Hasnaa Mokhtar As I sat helplessly dialing numbers of emergency contacts in the Washington, D.C. based Saudi Embassy, my brain retrieved the memory of a powerful woman 1435 years ago: Khadijah Bint Khuwailid. Hours before my departure to Washington, D.C. from Jeddah, I discovered that my recently renewed Saudi passport was missing my travel permit.

Khaleej Times
Goodbye Saudi Arabia

The decision to leave my country came after I knocked on many doors of the Saudi bureaucracy, hoping in vain to obtain the God-given right to live with my Arab-Canadian husband in the country of my birth. Instead of a residency permit, I was called names and degraded.

Arab News
Saudi Women Demand Equal Citizenship Rights

Mohammed Noor Baksh, a 60-year-old Pakistani driver, has been married to a Saudi woman for 27 years and hasn't traveled outside the Kingdom for the past 15 years. He has two daughters - one 21-year-old and the other 19-year-old - and a 14-year-old son.

Academic articles & talks

Society for Applied Anthropology Gender Based Violence (GBV) TIG
The epidemic of shameful feminist guilt and inadequacy

“We’re trained to feel guilty about everything as women. For some women, feminism has become another thing to feel inadequate about.” — Deborah Frances-White, host of “The Guilty Feminist” podcast

Gulf International Forum
Feminist Perspectives from the Gulf: Navigating Intersectionality

Faced with a reality in flux, how are feminists in the Gulf navigating the tension between the promise and the limitation of state reforms? Are top-down legal reforms enough to empower women in the region? What aspects of gender inequality do state reforms leave unaddressed and how are feminists in the Gulf responding to these challenges? What are the socio-cultural factors that are roadblocks to more inclusive legal reforms?

The Center for Women and Society, CUNY
16 Stories of Feminist Activism

The Center for the Study of Women and Society at The Graduate Center CUNY, in collaboration with the journals, Feminist Anthropology and Women’s Studies Quarterly, sponsored a call for stories related to activism in the year 2020. In recognition and celebration of the global initiative, 16 Days Campaign, the collaboration invited everyone who engaged with feminist activism throughout the 2020 year to submit their stories and build a community around the purpose of activism and change.

Feminist Anthropology
Advisor–advisee feminist relational mentoring: A heartfelt autoethnographic conversation

Abstract Academia is frequently a hostile place where students, pre‐tenure scholars, women, people of color, disabled, queer, transgender, and nonbinary people face perpetual challenges. “You do not belong here” or “you are not good enough” can feel like a constant refrain. Yet some students find their path and pursue their graduate studies with determination, or even passion, joy, and a sense of satisfaction. A successful mentoring relationship with a faculty member can contribute to that...

IWD 2020
Meet the Women behind the Research

Wiley sat down and interviewed the Women behind the research to learn more about their story. From economics to business and sociology to psychology, read the inspirational interviews and get practical advice, valuable insight and the motivation you need to realise your own success as a woman in research.

Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures
Violence Against Women: Gulf States - Brill

Introduction The rich history of the Gulf states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) remains engulfed in stereotypical modern-day imagination. Th…

"An ode to stories untold”: Synopsis of April 30th talk at the American University of Kuwait.

How do I re-tell the stories of people who trusted me, gave me their time, and opened their homes and hearts to me, unconditionally? How do I do them justice? How much critique is enough? Can it be humble and humane critique? Can the process and ethics of creating this knowledge be detached from the intended or unintended consequences it might have on these people? . . At this moment in history, a critique of oppression in the “world” can no longer be separate from a critique of oppression...

Media appearances

Femicide Around the World

Conversation with Hasnaa Mokhtar, Dawn Lavell Harvard, and Shahin Ashraf on November 27, 2021 about femicide in different regions and communities and the int...

Advocacy toolkits & guides

Peaceful Families Project | Working toward preventing all types of abuse in Muslim families
Domestic Violence Prevention in Muslim Communities: Trainers' Guide

PFP conducts domestic violence trainings, presents at local, national, and international forums, and organizes conferences and other training forums to help advocates and providers enhance their...

Peaceful Families Project | Working toward preventing all types of abuse in Muslim families
Domestic Violence Survivor Toolkit

Copyright 2023 / Peacefulfamilies.org / All Rights Reserved.

About Dr. Hasnaa

Al Haqeeqa
Check Out What the Muslim Girl Army Has to Say About Feminism

After the recent mixed-gender prayer controversy and the subsequent Internet debates, it is clear that the Muslim community has a great deal to say about feminism. In today's day and age, it seems that everyone is stating the need for and impact of feminism on Muslim women while sidelining Muslim women themselves.

8 Muslim Journalists You Should Follow

Given the world we live in, it's important to follow the type of journalists whose reporting you admire and trust, and who have perspectives that aren't simply those of the existing power structure. And in honor of Muslim Women's Day, we selected eight of our favorite Muslim women journalists whose work stands out in an ultra-crowded media landscape.

The Scarlet
Clark Graduate Student Hasnaa Mokhtar Advocates for Islam

Shootings and bombings in Paris killed one hundred thirty civilians on Nov. 13, 2015. According to BBC, the attacks were carried out by ISIS-related extremists. France responded with an objective to combat terrorism by instating a three-month state of emergency during which police could put people under house arrest or search them without a warrant,...

Muslim Girl
From Saudi Patriarchy to Ph.D., Meet Our Baddie of the Month: Hasnaa Mokhtar

Muslim Girl loves to bring attention to women of strength, knowledge and conviction. Baddies such as Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad, AJ+ Producer Sana Saeed, 14-year-old veiled Muslim convert and professional ballerina Stephanie Kurlow and, earlier last week, the first Somali-American Muslim State Legislator Ilhan Omar have all been featured as part of our #MuslimGirlFire series because of their amazing [...]

Clark University
One in 1.5 billion

The terrorist attacks in Paris and near Beirut last week have triggered outrage around the world and a military reaction by France. But they have also led to an increase in anti-Muslim public sentiment and calls for all Muslims to apologize for the attacks.

Worcester Mag
The Face of Feminism | Worcester Mag

In the global context, Worcester is a very welcoming place for women. There are opportunities aplenty, multitudinous colleges seeping knowledge into the community and a diverse demographic not overly influenced by any particular culture or religion. In a place like this, feminism can often be brushed aside, termed irrelevant.

Visualogue | 30, Where Reality is Forgotten

Hasnaa Mokhtar was one of 11 Saudi ladies to trek at the foothills of the Himalayas last May to reach Everest base camp. She will share with us this exhilarating (and literally breath taking) experience as she tells us how this journey virtually changed her perception on life.

BBCArabic.com | My Life Project

أنا حسناء من السعودية وعمري 27 سنة. أنا أم، وامرأة عاملة، واعمل في كلية خاصة في جدة كمترجمة مساعدة في مكتب عميدة الكلية. في حياة أي إنسان هناك ماض، يكون به ذكريات طيبة وأخرى مريرة ولكن افضل شيء انه ماض وقد مر وانتهى، وأحيانا ما نتذكره ولكنه رحل بكل أحداثه.