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Sharing stories of pride and perseverance of women with roots in the Middle East
To inspire a global connection by sharing the achievements, challenges and vulnerabilities of Middle Eastern women.
Painting of the map of Iran by Yasmine's children
Yasmine Mahdavi is the founder of Roots in the Middle East and the author of Roots in Iran: Stories of Visionary Women. She was born in Tehran, Iran. When she was twelve—long after the Iranian Revolution and during the Iran–Iraq war—she moved to the U.S. with her family. She spent the next decade in California, where she developed a fondness for heavy metal music and where the cold, choppy undertow of the Pacific Ocean took her by surprise.
She attended college at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and moved to New York City for graduate school at Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs. Upon graduation, she worked in financial services for more than a decade. During which time, she served as a member of her Community Board in New York City and spearheaded fundraising efforts and STEM programming at her children's public school. In 2015, she returned to the public sector and began her consulting work in program measurement and evaluation.
In recent conversations with her children, Yasmine became alarmed by the narrow lens through which they viewed people who hailed from the Middle East, particularly those of women who are often portrayed as backward victims of their own choices or that of others. There was a profound dearth of thoughtful stories celebrating their dignity, pride, and perseverance. Yasmine created Roots in the Middle East to share and preserve their untold experiences—for her children, their peers, and the global community. In doing so, Roots in the Middle East gives women with roots in the Middle East agency to define their own identities.