Mariam Girls Club: Empower, connect and unite

Learn about the creation of Mariam Girls Club, what it is, what they do and how it’s been going ever since.
Wesal Haroun 24 gives Claire Hahn 25 a glitter tattoo.
Wesal Haroun ’24 gives Claire Hahn ’25 a glitter tattoo.
Viana Qadoura

When most people hear about the group name Mariam Girls Club (MGC), the first thing that comes to their mind is that the founder must be named Mariam. But no, the name Mariam is much more than just an ordinary name of a founder. It’s the name of Isa’s mother in Islam, as Viana Qadoura, the founder of MGC, explains. This name came along because Mariam represents what the club aims for: to empower young women to be powerful, independent and resilient.

“Established in 2018, the club is limited to junior high & high school Muslim girls. MGC is organized to brighten the future of Muslim youth and as a place for Muslim girls to gather and to build strong relationships. MGC is a place of discussion that allows the girls to share daily issues that they may face, anything ranging from body image, bullying, self-esteem, the hijab to Islamic ethics,” Qadoura explained.

MGC is very involved. It exposes and introduces the girls to new and fun experiences, which include, but are not limited to, sports activities like swimming, skating or even fencing. They also volunteer throughout community events. 

In the past few years, they have volunteered at the Coralville Food Pantry, the Iowa City Mosque, the Johnson County Poor Farm, Houses into Homes and the 2023 Welcome Festival sponsored by many churches and agencies, hosted in Mercer Park.  

When helping out with community meals, the girls not only cook them but also help serve them. When there’s no cooking or serving, they bring their glitter tattoo table for the kids and even adults. 

The founder herself is very accomplished, recently being appointed as a Human Rights Commissioner for the city of Iowa City. She recently was also in an article by The Gazette discussing her work in the community with MGC.

When asked what the club has accomplished throughout the years, Qadoura explains. “The club was initiated with a simple vision, and its reputation has grown so much. MGC won the Social Justice Racial Equity grant of $7,500 which is directed towards completing the 1,000 Book Nook project for Al-Iman Weekend School Library.”

We have accomplished what was never expected or seen here before. Girls are growing with us, and the Muslim community has finally been recognized.

— Viana Qadoura

Along with being a very accomplished woman, Qadoura has six children. One of her daughters, Shahd Suleiman ’26 is a sophomore at West. She describes MGC as a place with an atmosphere unlike any other. That reminds her about the importance of religion. 

“My mother works extremely hard to get the club to function at such a good level. She puts in a great amount of hours researching different opportunities or being on long phone calls trying to make connections with other organizations. I try to help my mother out with some things but it’s a fraction of her load.”

Along with volunteer work, Shahd also enjoys the fun meetings, where they would go and try new things. Like archery or ice skating, helping build a strong relationship between the members and forming a family. 

Qadoura has created a safe place for Muslim girls in our world today. She has given them a voice and a place to speak up for themselves and feel seen. Although the girls might not notice it now, the work that Qadoura has done for them and what she has provided them with isn’t something your day-to-day person does. 

Even though there is a lot of volunteer work no matter how busy I am, I never forget what being a good person is because of the club.

— Shahd Suleiman '26

For more about the club, visit their Facebook page @MariamGirlsClub and email ([email protected]) with any comments or questions.

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