Dr amanda wise & dr jan ali commonwealth of Australia 2008

Initiative Title: Self-esteem, Identity, Leadership and Community (SILC) for Women Workshops

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Initiative Title: Self-esteem, Identity, Leadership and Community (SILC) for Women Workshops

Organised by: Islamic Women’s Welfare Council of Victoria (IWWCV)

Contact Details: Joumanah El Matrah, 169 Fitzroy Street, FITZROY 3065,
Ph: (03) 9419 7888,
Email: iwwcv@vicnet.net.au

Funded by: Department of Immigration and Citizenship and Australian Government's Stronger Families and Communities Strategy

Time Period of Initiative: 3 years

Number of participants involved: Approximately 150 people each.

Target Group: Muslim women living in Shepparton, Cobram, Coburg, Broadmeadows, Brunswick, Glenroy, Carlton, Fitzroy, Newport and Dandenong.

Project Description: The SILC project aims to facilitate women’s recognition of their rights and responsibilities as human beings, women and Muslims. SILC is a three-year project and provides opportunities for Muslim women to develop their self-confidence and sense of well-being as they enhance their strengths and leadership skills. On completing one or more of the workshops, participants will have the capacity to support other women, both formally and informally or serve as resource persons, mentors or leaders to the community if they choose to do so. Women may also access the SILC workshops solely to enhance their awareness of issues that are important to them.

Women are able to choose from any or all of the following streams- General Leadership, Leadership in Education & Skills, Leadership in Parenting, Leadership against Domestic Violence. Each module will provide Muslim women key frameworks that support them in recognising their rights and role as community members in the context of Australia. These frameworks include human rights, Islamic writings, citizenship rights and gender justice.

IWWCV is a community welfare organisation established and managed by Muslim women for Muslim women. Their belief is that any meaningful change in the status of Muslim women is to be achieved through the improved situation of Muslim women individually and collectively. To this end, the Council developed the SILC initiative which lies at the heart of IWWCV’s commitment to increase women’s participation and voice in their community.

Successes and Challenges: The workshops have helped broaden the horizons of Muslim women and encouraged their participation in wider Australian society, thereby reaching out to non-Muslims as well. This enhancement of awareness was the central aim of the workshops and it has been a huge success.

What evaluation (if any) was conducted: Evaluation involved surveys and direct feedback, all of which substantiated the successful role played by SILC in helping Muslim women.

Initiative Title: ‘Did you Know? The Role, Position and Rights of Australian Muslim Women’ – Production of booklet

Organised by: Muslim Women’s National Network of Australia (MWNA)

Contact Details: Aziza Abdel-Halim
PO Box 213 Granville NSW 2142,
Ph 0402 778 366
Email: info@mwnna.org.au

Funded by: Department of Immigration and Citizenship

Time Period of Initiative: Booklet to be launched and distributed by end of 2007.

Number of participants involved: N.A.

Target Group: Muslim women as well as men, non-Muslims. To be distributed through Islamic organisations.

Project Description: This project will develop a booklet to address misinterpretation and misapplication of Islam which affects the role, position and rights of Australian Muslim women. The project recognises the responsibility women have in the family structure and in the transfer of beliefs and practices to youth.

The MWNNA is a peak body representing a network of Muslim women's organisations and individuals throughout Australia. It is a multicultural Muslim women’s organisation, welcoming Muslim women of all ages, occupations and ethnicities. Their membership is drawn from a broad mix of ethnic backgrounds from the Middle East, South East Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa, Europe and America, as well as members who were born in Australia.

The production and distribution of the booklet on Australian Muslim women is in line with the organisation’s aims to educate Muslim women and girls to know and appreciate their Islamic rights and duties, provide advocacy with government and non-government institutions on behalf of Muslims, especially women and children, and maintain good relations with Australians of other faiths and joining with them in interfaith meetings and events. The booklet will not only help Muslim women and men understand their faith better, but also clear any misunderstanding and stereotypes among non-Muslims about Muslim women. They are currently awaiting final clearance of the booklet by DIAC.

Successes and Challenges: One of the challenges is changing the rigid mindset of Muslims who have understood certain cultural and ethnic practices as belonging to Islam when this is not the case. The booklet draws from the Quran to clearly indicate the role of women within Islam rather than just following certain cultural practices attributed to Islam.

What evaluation (if any) was conducted: N.A.

Initiative Title: Step-Up!

Organised by: United Muslim Women Association Inc

Contact Details: Maha Abdul, 47 Wangee Road LAKEMBA NSW 2195,
Ph: (02) 9750 6916
Email: manager@mwa.org.au

Funded by: NSW Attorney-General’s Department

Time Period of Initiative: 2006, Events on an intermittent basis

Number of participants involved: 150

Target Group: Young Muslim women and service providers around Lakemba and neighbouring suburbs.

Project Description: United Muslim Women Association Inc is a registered body working with individual women and women’s groups to promote fairness, equity, and justice in the local community. It is a non-ethnic based organisation which caters for Muslim women from any socio-economic, political, and cultural background.

The United Muslim Women Association is currently overseeing a new safety project targeting Arab and Muslim women and young people. Step Up!, as the project has been called, is funded by the NSW Attorney-Generals Department and aims to reduce and prevent racial and religious discrimination and violence against Arab and Muslim women and young people. Step Up! also aims to build the capacity of Arab and Muslim women and young people in the short, medium and long term to deal with racial and religious discrimination and violence. It also aims to increase the capacity of government and non- government organisations and small businesses to respond effectively and appropriately to the racial and religious discrimination and violence experienced by Arab and Muslim women and young people.

For example, in light of the moral panic fuelled by the media and other parts of society, following the London bombing, MWA recently took the initiative in gathering prominent members of the Muslim community to discuss issues and concerns regarding the concept of Jihad to Muslims and their condemning of terrorism. Through regular events like these, the organisation tries to not only reach out to Muslims, but also the wider Australian society.

Successes and Challenges: All the programs has received good response from the public with substantial turnout. The organisation through their programs are playing an active role in improving the level access & equity participation of Muslim women into all facets of Australian life, improving the quality of service provision, as well as provide information, education and training on Islamic Practices and beliefs with a view to correct misconceptions.

What evaluation (if any) was conducted: N.A.

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