International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on 8 March and the Lebanese Muslim Association (LMA) hosted a gala function on Wednesday 6 March in its Events Hall at Lakemba in southwest Sydney to mark the wonderful achievements of women in our community.

The gathering of well over 100 guests featured some uplifting speeches and presentations from keynote speakers.

  • Hajji Maha Abdo is a renowned advocate for women’s rights and empowerment. She serves as the CEO of Muslim Women Australia (MWA), a representative body for Muslim women, advocating for equality and rights for all women.
  • Nadia Faour is also much admired for her dedication and passion towards women’s causes, qualities which earned her the title of Western Sydney Women Educator of the Year, 2023. From a young age, Nadia has been driven by a profound desire to both support and inspire women from her community, particularly those from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds.
  • Shaqaeq Reza is from Afghanistan and since arriving in Australia in 2013, she has been actively involved in advocating for refugees and asylum seekers. In March, 2022, Shaqaeq launched her own fashion label, Sherzan. She is committed to empowering migrant and refugee women in Australia through creating employment and training opportunities.
  • Syeda Ummul Bushar Raji is the director and owner of the highly successful Care 4 Hair Hairdressing Salon. Before migrating to Australia, she was a prominent artist and model in Bangladesh and now finds pure joy in helping women look and feel their best.

The LMA team (flanked by chief event organiser Lynda Kartout and MC Natalie Dergham) did a great job.

Lynda Kartout (who co-wrote this article) is a hard-working community support worker with the LMA and was the driving force behind the success of the event.

Explaining her inspiration in putting the event together, Lynda told AMUST, “We wanted to highlight the resilience and strength of women who have only recently arrived in Australia and to make them feel special.”

“We also decided to invite a number of guest speakers who shared their wonderfully inspiring success stories and we thank them for their amazing input on the day.”

“I’d also like to thank SBS Arabic for their outstanding coverage and also my LMA colleagues for their excellent input and assistance.”

Layla, a recent arrival from Algeria, told SBS Arabic: “When I saw the other attendees (at the event), I saw women with dreams, who left their countries and migrated across the world to make a better life for themselves.”

“Australia is definitely a country of hope for us.”

LMA chief program officer Bronwyn Hadife at the microphone.

Click on the link below to view SBS Arabic’s coverage of the event: