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South Salt Lake Journal

Women of the World celebrates success

Jan 05, 2024 01:04PM ● By Peri Kinder

A group of 40 refugee women were recognized for achieving their goals at the Women of the World’s annual Celebration of Success. (Photo courtesy of WoW)

It was an event to celebrate the strong, resilient women who have faced adversity, yet continued to move forward in their lives to find success.

In December, Women of the World hosted its annual Celebration of Success where the organization recognized the economic, social and educational successes of refugee women in Salt Lake County. The women have overcome obstacles to achieve goals of self-reliance through diligent hard work with the support of the WoW community.

“Your dedication and hard work have not only transformed your own lives but have become a beacon of inspiration for others,” said Samira Harnish, Women of the World executive director, during the event. “I want you to recognize the strength within yourselves. You have faced unimaginable challenges, including the loss of homes, jobs and loved ones. Yet, in the face of adversity, you displayed unparalleled resilience by making the difficult decision to start anew in a foreign land. Your journey from ground zero to where you stand today is nothing short of awe-inspiring.”

The group of 40 women received certificates of achievement for the progress they demonstrated over the last year. Some of the success stories included getting a driver’s license, obtaining a job or earning a raise, putting a down payment on a house or learning English.

The event was held at the Columbus Center (2531 S. 400 East) and featured ethnic food and dancing, and gave the women and their families a chance to celebrate the blending of their native cultures with the ongoing growth in their new home. 

WoW’s mission is to support refugee women to achieve self-reliance, become a voice in the community and empower economic success. The nonprofit provides women training in conversational English, helps treat physical or mental health issues, develops job skills and gives women opportunities to further their education. For more information, visit 

“Reflecting on the initial decision to present certificates, I am filled with pride to witness the growth and empowerment that has unfolded over the years,” Harnish said. “From honoring just two women in the beginning to now recognizing the accomplishments of over 40 women, it’s an incredible testament to determination.”

Harnish thanked her staff who work tirelessly to ensure women in the program have the support and resources they need to reach their potential. She also said the volunteers who donate their time and talents are “the backbone of our organization.” She acknowledged that the combined dedication of staff, volunteers and participants makes WoW an instrument of change in the community. 

“Your stories serve as a source of inspiration for women everywhere, demonstrating that despite the challenges, it is possible to overcome and thrive,” she said. “Keep pushing boundaries, breaking barriers and creating a brighter future not only for yourselves but for generations to come.”

WoW started doing this event every December to celebrate the efforts made by these self-reliant women. Organizers believe it’s important for Utahns to know these women are working hard to give back to the community. This event also inspires other women to work hard to get their certificates during the upcoming year. 

“They’ve persevered toward their goals and are working really hard,” said Ryan Cook, WoW operations manager. “They all have endured so much and they’re continuing to push forward and make a better life for themselves and for their families.” λ