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At Tahirih’s 7th Annual Houston Gala, CEO and Founder Layli Miller-Muro spoke about the unimaginable realities faced by women and girls who experience gender-based violence, and how Houstonians are among the most critical facets of facilitating support in the mission for freedom.

“It is because of all of you here tonight that we are on the front lines of defense, working to ensure that the law is followed and that those fleeing violence – women and girls working to change their cultures, families, and communities – are able to access their legal rights.”

In Tahirih’s 21 years of service, it has responded to more than 25,000 calls for help from women and girls fleeing human rights abuses, and in just the last year, Houston served more than 1,000 courageous voices seeking safety from persecution. With nine years of service under its belt, Tahirih’s Houston office is the largest, and thanks to the incredible work of the Houston team and community, this year’s Gala raised more than $650,000!

Houstonians know how to help others in need and know how to get it done. Houston is the most diverse city in America and is the most generous. Whether it is hurricanes or children in need, again and again, Houstonians show how to work across political lines, how to unite around service and charity, and how to empower those on the margins.  Houston is a model for the rest of the country.”

But, Miller-Muro acknowledged, it is a hard time in the fight for justice. The laws that Tahirih relies on to protect its clients are being eroded by the day, the immigration system is experiencing unprecedented years-long delays, the global refuge crisis is the worst it’s been since WWII, violence against women is a global epidemic, and people across the country are divided. It’s natural to wonder how one person or a small group of people can truly make a difference and change the tides.

 “Some of what our clients endure is hard to imagine, but please try.  It is hard to comprehend, but please seek to understand. It is hard to listen to, but please open your ears. It may make you uncomfortable, but please don’t shy away. You have an opportunity to influence this reality. You have an opportunity to save the life of that woman who has already taken every possible step she can to save herself.”

This past year, courageous women have brought their stories of violence and abuse to light like never before. Women around the world are stopping at nothing to change cultures and societies, to promote a better world for their children and future generations of women. The need for Tahirih’s work and Houston’s determination to create a more equal and just world are greater than ever. Thank you to all who attended this year’s Houston Gala – we couldn’t do it without you!