Every year, the NSW Women of the Year Awards bring out inspiring and talented women from all industries, communities, backgrounds, and ages to honour local leaders for their outstanding contribution and to recognize their commitment to improve the lives of women and girls in the society by supporting basic rights and equal opportunities.

The event this year, organized in Sydney on the morning of International Women’s Day, Thursday 8 March, was no exception. Over 400 guests, including Members of Parliament, attended the ceremony which was presided by MC Deborah Knight.

Now in its seventh year, this event continued to inspire, educate, and empower young women thus preparing them for a future of success.

Having walked an extraordinarily successful path despite all odds, the following inspirational women with their leadership skills and no-excuse mindset, have each made an indelible contribution to our community.

Professor Hala Zreiqat (NSW Premier’s Woman of the Year), Julie Shelley (NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year), Dr Raji Ambikairajah (Community Hero), Shaza Rifi (Harvey Norman Young Woman of the Year), Juliet Duffy (Rex Airlines Regional Woman of the Year), Kristy Chong (NSW Business Woman of the Year), Norma Ingram (First Stare Super Lifetime Achievement).

Encouragingly, Shaza Rifi, an Australian Muslim of Lebanese descent and President of the Muslim Women Association (MWA), has made major strides in addressing the epidemic of domestic and family violence across Australia.

Shaza is dedicated to building better communities, facilitating social enterprise. She is guiding health, well being and capacity-building portfolios to empower young people to provide Muslim women in Australia the opportunity to be a part of and contribute to Australia’s diverse community.

© Salty Dingo

Shaza graduated in Civil Engineering in 2013. As a young girl and teenager, she attended leadership camps run by the MWA. It was here she developed a keen sense of social justice, the importance of social cohesion and participation and the desire to empower women.

These days, in her role as President of MWA, she is leading the improvement of services and support for women facing domestic and family violence.

The 2018 NSW Women of the Year Awards, sponsored by First State Super, were held in the presence of the Governor General, David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of New South Wales and Mrs Hurley, the NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian MP, Minister for Women,  Tanya Davies and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Sarah Mitchell MLC.