Founder, STEPS Women’s Development Organization
D. Sharifa Khanam founded STEPS Women’s Development Organization in 1987. Ms. Khanam’s work for the past two decades has been devoted to the protection of women. The organization provides short-term residence for battered women and works with both the local community and police to protect abused women. Ms. Khanam’s dedication to women, particularly Muslim women, began in 1999 when she created the first network of Muslim women in southern India, the Tamil Nadu Muslim Women’s Jamaat Committee. The group, comprised of poor and working class women, functions as a community tribunal to aid local women. Ms. Khanam is currently working to build the first mosque exclusively for Muslim women in India. She hopes the mosque will become the center of a vibrant Islamic feminist and democratic culture.