March Madness (3/12/2018)-Engy Abdelkader v. Catherine Cortez Masto

Today’s head-to-head is between Engy Abdelkader and Catherine Marie Cortez Masto. Engy Abdelkader is a legal scholar who has worked with Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians to address Islamophobia. Catherine Cortez Masto was the first woman to represent Nevada in the Senate, and the first Latina in the United States Senate.  Which woman inspires you the most? You can vote by participating in our daily Twitter or Facebook poll, or by casting a vote at the Circulation Desk.  Happy voting!

Engy Abdelkader-“Anti-Muslim political rhetoric and policy posturing by public officials will only exacerbate an already worsening problem while distracting us from achieving more effective solutions to ensure our collective security.”

Image via ABA Journal

Not much is known about her childhood or history, but Engy has been advocating for Muslim rights since the attacks on 9/11, speaking out against violent Muslim rhetoric and fighting for justice. She holds two degrees in law from Rutgers and the University of Pennsylvania. She was a teaching fellow and professor at several universities, her classes often focusing on international human rights law. She has served on US State Department Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group and also has served as a religious freedom adviser to the Officer for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. A well-known writer, her most recent book was, “When Islamophobia Turns Violent: the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.” The book focused directly on the increase of violence towards Muslims during the 2016 elections and specifically focused on the fact that American Muslims were 6 to 9 times more likely to suffer violent attacks than they were prior to 9/11. She encourages children’s books to discuss religious freedom and discuss Islam in a positive light for children who might not otherwise be exposed to the religion. She currently works as an appointed member of the New Jersey Supreme Court Board on Continuing Legal Education, New Jersey State Bar Foundation Respect Newsletter Editorial Advisory Board, New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Minority Concerns, New Jersey State Bar Association Blue Ribbon Commission on Unmet Legal Needs and the New Jersey State Bar Association Membership Committee. Additionally, she is a Board member of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, a group dedicated to enhancing relationships between Muslim and Jewish women.

Catherine Marie Cortez-“For most women, running for office starts with a passion for an issue you care about. For me, it’s always been about human rights, domestic-violence prevention, juvenile-justice reform, sexual-assault prevention.”

Masto (1)
Image via Wikipedia

Catherine was born into a family that encouraged and participated in local politics. Her father was a County Commissioner and also an attorney for a county in Nevada. Additionally, her family had ties with long time senators and the family encouraged Catherine’s education. She received her B.A and J.D before spending time as a civil attorney for Las Vegas and then a criminal prosecutor in Washington D.C. In 2009, she was named Nevada’s Attorney General and she spent that time working to ensure she argued for Nevada’s laws, even when she did not actually agree with them. In 2014, long time Senator from Nevada Harry Reid, who was also a family friend of Catherine’s, endorsed her as his replacement for Senator. Her campaign and subsequent platform in the Senate heavily focuses on renewable energy resources, women’s rights, and pro-choice rhetoric. She took office in January of 2017, becoming the first Latina in the United States Senate.

Disclaimer: This is a friendly competition that is meant to increase awareness about some amazing women. The match ups were determined by a random outcome generator, and the winner will be determined based solely on the votes submitted by the participants. We are in no way seeking to pit one woman against each other in any inappropriate way, because each woman is inspiring in her own right.

Author: Alyson Drake

Alyson Drake is the Assistant Director for Public Services and the Director of the Excellence in Legal Research Program at Texas Tech University Law School, where she also teaches courses in Texas Legal Research, and Foreign, Comparative, and International Legal Research and administers the Legal Practice Program's research workshops. She blogs at

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