On Saturday 15 May, diaspora women leaders and their children from across Western Sydney gathered to celebrate Eid and Mother’s Day, and to commemorate lives lost in a recent bombing of a girl’s school in Kabul.
More than 70 women from the Afghan, Palestinian, Persian, Iraqi, and a range of other Asian and Latin American communities attended on the night.
Hava Rezaie, Hazara community leader, women’s rights activist and JRS Australia Women’s Space Advisory Committee member, organised the event in partnership with the JRS Women’s Space team and a number of wonderful JRS volunteers.
The event was part of JRS Australia’s commitment to providing spaces and platforms for leaders with lived experience of displacement to gather, build new connections, and explore solutions for issues that affect them, and to foster inter-faith understanding.
Sister Shahnaz spoke about the theological importance of Eid as a festival, and a musician named sister Amireh played the daf (A Persian drum). Hava spoke about the importance of Eid as an occasion of unity, and the importance of coming together to connect.
Hava also led a solemn vigil to commemorate those who lost their lives in a recent Taliban bombing of a girl’s school in Kabul, calling on those present to light a candle and stand for an end to violence against the Hazara community.
Conversations over dinner presented the opportunity to talk about a whole range of issues, including the the culture of violence across Australia and the world and how domestic and family violence and violence against women and girls is present and can be seen amongst all communities and in all neighbourhoods, regardless of religion, wealth, and education.
Another key theme of discussion pertained to how leaders can better support women seeking asylum and those on temporary visas to become independent by connecting them to female entrepreneurs and business owners in their own communities.
Attendees also learnt about the support they could access at the JRS Women’s Space, and about JRS Australia’s community mobiliser program, a community education initiative by and for women at risk of sexual and gender-based violence to improve understanding of the rights of SGBV victim-survivors in Australia.
Hava also organised for three Hazara journalists to attend, and with the permission of others present, share stories and coverage of the night for Dari and Hazaragi-speaking communities in Australia.
Sangak restaurant catered the delicious food, which included a lentil and lamb stew, lamb kebab, spiced eggplant, salad, charcoaled tomatoes and rice.
A number of women who attended noted the importance of providing safe, comfortable, and child-friendly spaces such as this for them to build social and cultural networks, share information, and talk through ideas for change.
A future workshop on women’s rights in Australia is currently being planned.
Learn more about the work of the JRS Women’s Space here.