An Instagram post on Mayor Brandon Scott’s page seeking volunteers for the Baltimore Commission for Women immediately piqued the interest of Kionne T. Abdul-Malik.

“I saw the post right at the same time that I felt the urging to do more community work within the city. I applied and went through the process and was selected to serve,” the 44-year-old Ten Hills resident said.

A year and a half later, Abdul-Malik has been named the chairperson for the commission, whose aims she sees as more vital than ever in the current political climate.

Abdul-Malik heads up a 19-person group that develops information systems, provides advice and counsel, conducts research, hosts educational programming, analyzes policy, and advocates for women’s issues to improve the lives of and opportunities for all women in Baltimore, she said. Her term is for one year.

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“Women have been historically marginalized and overlooked. Women wear many hats to help make things happen. It is necessary to support women, not only for their individual well-being, but also for the advancement of our society,” said Abdul-Malik, who was born and raised in Edmondson Village. She’s currently pursuing a master’s degree in human-centered computing at UMBC.

Following her recent appointment by Scott, The Baltimore Banner asked Abdul-Malik a series of questions about her new role and the state of women’s rights. Answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Why is it important to focus the Commission for Women?

Women need to be heard, helped and empowered. Focusing on women doesn’t mean that any other group should be ignored, instead we need to understand the issues that every group faces to work towards resolving those issues. The Women’s Commission is here to focus on the needs and fights of women. I feel the current administration is doing a great job on addressing the needs of most marginalized groups of people.

What do you hope to accomplish in this role?

The first accomplishment is to see tangible results of the work of the commission. The current commission was actually a rebirth of the Women’s Commission, and we plan to pick up the torch and see things through to the finish line. My main goal as chairperson is to serve and support my fellow commissioners and the women of the city.

With the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, ending federal protections for abortion rights, do you feel that the rights of women are under attack?

It is truly sad that this day has come. Yes, women were stripped of their rights with the reversal of Roe v. Wade. It’s just an example of women being reduced to pawns in a larger system. No one should have a say on the decision of what a woman decides to do with her body. I’m thankful to be a Marylander and Baltimorean where our government protects women’s rights.

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Kionne T Abdul-Malik, chairperson of the Commission for Women, poses for a portrait in front of City Hall in Baltimore on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)

How will that affect women on a local level here in Baltimore?

I think for us in Baltimore, it raises a level of concern. With any change in administration, whether city or state, our rights could be on the chopping block. We may be fine now, but there’s no sense of security in down the line.

What women have inspired you throughout life?

My mom. She broke a generational cycle to allow me opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise. She showed me what strength and patience mean. There are a long list of women who have inspired me, from Oprah, my middle school teacher, Mrs. Williams, to Beyoncé and UMBC’s President Valerie Sheares Ashby. I am currently inspired by first lady Dawn Moore because of her transparency of having MS but not letting that limit her. I have lupus and it is encouraging to see powerful women with an autoimmune disease still operate in their greatness.

Do you have a motto or advice that you follow?

I just follow three words from Ram Dass: “Be here now.” Sometimes we let the current moments slip or lose value because we focus too much of the past or worry too much about the future. We have today to do things, make better decisions, love, and celebrate those around us, and give our presence.

Who are some women in Baltimore who are doing stellar work?

Fem Equity’s founder Adeola Ajani. This young woman is creating amazing waves in bringing awareness to the pay gap between white males to Black women in different industries and helping women fight back to get the pay they deserve. My fellow commissioner, Ana Rodney, who is the executive director of MOMcares. It is an organization serving mothers and families, providing support, self-care opportunities and healing experiences designed to strengthen the family unit with the matriarch at the center of its work. Ana saw a need based on how poorly Black and brown mothers are treated in the health care system that, far too often, leads to death, and she decided to step up to help young mothers throughout their journey of pregnancy and motherhood.

John-John Williams IV is a diversity, equity and inclusion reporter at The Baltimore Banner. A native of Syracuse, N.Y. and a graduate of Howard University, he has lived in Baltimore for the past 17 years. 

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