SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) — A decision by the umbrella Muslim group in the Australian state of Victoria to open a new office for women is inviting jubilance for giving Muslim females the chance to express themselves and promote cultural diversity.
"There certainly is a revival of Muslim women becoming more in touch with their faith and wanting to give back to the wider community," Sherene Hassan, secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, told the Melbourne Leader on Monday, July 9.
The council has decided to open a new office for women at the top floor of Jeffcott St mosque at West Melbourne to provide a dynamic hub for Muslim women in Victoria.
Hassan hailed the move for providing Muslim women an opportunity to celebrate their achievements.
"At any Islamic conference you'll find at least two-thirds of participants are women," she said.
This office is the first time a centralized space has been dedicated to providing services for Muslim women from across the state.
It also marks a breakthrough in the 40-year history of the Islamic Council of Victoria.
Islam is Australia’s second largest religion after Christianity.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
The government recently issued an 88-page book that tells the success stories of more than 40 Muslims over the past three centuries.
The office will give Muslim women the chance to clear misconceptions about Islam and highlight gender equality as promoted by the Islamic faith.
"It's about trying to create awareness and pose the question ... and ask where in Islam does it promote this?" Hassan said.
It will also help Muslim women to clarify some cultural practices that are contrary to Islamic teachings.
The office will also help Muslims promote cultural diversity among the state's Muslim community, coming from more than 70 countries.
"It's a beginning of something new for all of us, but also a celebration of the past," Maryum Chaudhry, President of the Office for Women, said.
The Noble Qur'an and Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) exhort followers to achieve racial and gender equality.
In post 9/11 Australia, Muslims have been haunted with suspicion and have had their patriotism questioned.
A 2007 poll taken by the Issues Deliberation Australia (IDA) think-tank found that Australians basically see Islam as a threat to the Australian way of life.
A recent governmental report revealed that Muslims are facing deep-seated Islamophobia and race-based treatment like never before. — www.shafaqna.com/english/