The Muslim Women’s Welfare of Australia (MWWA) honoured senior migrant women within South West Sydney at their International Women’s Day event. These women’s commitment, support and devotion, made it happen for their children to succeed in life.

Many migrants started their life in Australia facing many obstacles including language barriers, low income and little or no family networks. The International Women’s Day event highlighted how much strength, perseverance and courage migrant women have in raising their families as mothers, carers, workers and as women.

Those attending included Charishma Kaliyanda, Labor candidate for Holsworthy, Thida Yang, Community Relations Advisor, Faten El Dana OAM, MWWA President, Melanie Gibbons, Member for Menai and the Chief Superintendent Peter Gillam, Liverpool Local Area Command

A message from the Minister for Women, Pru Goward was read out where she said “This year’s International Women’s Day of ‘Make It Happen’ is all about looking at what actions we can take to increase the advancement and recognition of women in our society.” She said “I am very encouraged by events like yours today. It’s so important that women come together to create real change in society.”

International Women’s Day is a renowned opportunity to remember, reflect on, and recognize the incredible accomplishments demonstrated by generations of women.  With that came an emotion stirring gathering led by the Muslim Women’s Welfare of Australia that shined a vivacious light on regular women who have played a superb role within the confines of their families, communities and even countries.

This year on International Women’s Day, celebrated the acts of courage and determination by women who, individually and collectively, ‘made it happen’ which was the wholehearted theme for this year’s event.  Whether it was the stay at home mother who ensures her family is safe and happy, or the wife who put her education on hold to be a full time carer for her terminally ill husband, or the senior woman who always lends a helping hand to the community, every woman who attended, exemplified a living proof that our women continue to make important, lasting, and positive contributions to society.

The President of the Muslim Women Welfare of Australia Mrs. Faten El-Dana OAM was extremely pleased to be hosting the event that loudly recognized the accomplishments of women past and present. “Usually on International Women’s Day we hear about women who receive awards as a symbol of appreciation for their social political or economic achievements. Today MWWA would like to congratulate all the women who are receiving recognition today for such achievements.   However, and by not taking away from those women, MWWA would like to make a special mention of a special class of women who tend to be forgotten as they are the achievers who ‘make it happen’ silently.”

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Services with special responsibility for Multicultural Affairs, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells conveyed a message of support to the event through a video message “As parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Social Services with special responsibility to Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services and as a daughter of a migrant myself, it gives me great pleasure to see this event take place.”

Although MWWA honored all women in one way or another, the senior women were given particular recognition for their achievements that have had a monumental impact on the lives of so many and embodied the clarion call of this year’s International Women’s Day theme ‘make it happen’.

Charishma Kaliyanda, Labor candidate for Holsworthy said “When I first received the invitation, I really connected with it because it described the contribution of senior women within the community due to the migrant experience, the overcoming struggles. It may not have been an obvious contribution that you have made, but it is a significant contribution nonetheless.”

All senior attendees also received a special token from MWWA which was a fresh pink rose as a gesture of their thanks and gratitude.

Everyone was also deeply moved by the impassioned Malaysian choir performance beautifully sung by two young talented females; Iman and Khadijah Farrar. The song embodied very meaningful lyrics regarding the value of the hijab among which are

‘This hijab,

This mark of piety,

Is an act of faith, a symbol,

For all the world to see.’

The event also featured a heartwarming performance with embracing tunes and emotive words about the importance and value of mothers performed by Iyouch Abbdallah.  During the performance, the women reflected on their own mothers and the valued and dignified contributions they have made to their families.

With a gathering that celebrated women sharing hope, vision and solidarity, there was plenty for women to be inspired by.  The value of this event was deeply reflected in our ability to integrate the voices of those who ‘make it happen’ and find the threads that weave us together giving us hope to look towards the future.