Brave, Strong, Courageous.  These were the words encrypted on the awards certificates presented at the inaugural Baasila Women Acknowledging Women Awards Ceremony at Melbourne’s iconic Moroccan Soup Bar in Fitzroy on  8 September 2018.

The winners of the Women Acknowledging Women Award 2018 in four categories were:

  1. Naima Usman: Women’s Empowerment
  2. Dr Sara Hassan: Community Leadership
  3. Amona Hassab: Youth Capacity Building
  4. Aysha Tufa: contribution to STEM/Arts Innovation

The Baasila Awards is an incredible platform pioneered to celebrate the substantial contributions of Australian Muslim women, where all nominations are made by women for women.  

There was an overwhelming interest in the idea of these awards where more than 50 nominations across four categories were received this year.

Almost 100 Australian Muslim women took their seats as trays of aromatic mint tea was offered, circulating on silver trays amongst the crowd.  The warm Moroccan colours and traditional decor of the venue, combined with the scents of a generous Middle-eastern vegetarian feast simmering in the kitchen, set a welcoming scene for social justice advocate and owner of Moroccan Soup Bar, Hana Assafiri to make her opening remarks, 

“We created the Baasila Women Acknowledging Women Award to celebrate the contributions of diverse Muslim women in our communities. We are aware that against a divisive and hostile backdrop, Muslim women continue to transcend social barriers and find opportunities in social conditions of adversity and discrimination.

The women we seek to recognise are the future leaders of our communities, those breaking new ground, despite facing oppression and severely limited opportunities. We specifically aim to recognise women who are seldom seen, yet whose contributions and efforts go a long way in maintaining social harmony. These women are nominated by their female peers, to embody the adage ‘when we lift and enable women we progress our entire society.”

Hana Assafiri presenting award to nominee Rida Khan

From left: Nada Kalam & finalist Amona Hassab
















A moving speech was made by guest speaker Helen Kapalos, Chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission.  Helen reflected on the resilience and strength of her late mother, who’s birthday happened to be on that same day.  She explained the importance of valuing the contributions of women, acknowledging “who we are, what we stand for, holding our space and being in our truth.”

The event MC role was shared between several of the event organising committee including Anam Javed, Zuleyha Keskin, Director of Islamic Sciences & Research Academy and others including Hana Assafiri, Inaz Janif, Nada Kalam and Sam Haouchar.

This event was made possible by the innovative thinking, generosity and financial contributions of a small group of Australian Muslim women with a vision to bring to the forefront the quiet achievers who strive for the betterment of their communities every day. 

More funding must be allocated for future Baasila award ceremonies and other platforms of this nature where contributions of Australian Muslim women are highlighted, valued and respected.  

Complete profiles of each of finalists and nominees are available via the Baasila Awards page.