One Saturday towards the end of September, MWASA (Muslim Women’s Association of SA) held “A cross-cultural exploration of women’s rights through time to commemorate 125 years of women’s suffrage in SA”.
The event was held in the Bradley Forum of the Hawke Centre, on the UniSA City West campus. UniSA allows the centre to be used for educational free community events and we acknowledge and thank them for that.
The event was opened with a lovely Quran recitation from Sister Ulfat. She recited paragraph 35 of the chapter Al Ahzab (known in English as The Confederates) in the original Arabic and then the English translation was shared so that everybody could fully appreciate the meaning. For your convenience we have included the paragraph here.
Following the Quran recitation, Chairperson Dora Abbas welcomed the gathering with a few dignified words.
Each speaker of the day was introduced by a supremely elegant MC: Sister Peta Abdalla.
The Guest of Honour for this event was Katrine Hildyard MP. Katrine works tirelessly towards bettering the lives of all South Australians. In Katrine’s fight for a fair and inclusive society she has actively encouraged and made space for CaLD women to have their voice heard in parliament. She shared with us a few words about her own personal journey and experiences as a female Member of Parliament. Everyone present was touched by Katrine’s words, she is truly a brave and highly motivated woman.
Presenting directly on the SA women’s suffrage movement was Mandy Paul. Mandy is Director at the SA Migration Museum and she herself contains an immense wealth of state history. Her speech was accompanied by a slideshow, it was very interesting to put faces to the names of the leading suffragists and their key supporters. Whilst celebrating the achievements of the suffragists, we must acknowledge and respect that the same freedoms were not extended to Aboriginal men and women until much later. We are grateful for and enriched by Mandy’s unbiased talk.
Presenting a Muslim woman’s perspective on the SA women’s suffrage movement was Melati Lum. Melati Lum is a practising lawyer specialising in public law and criminal prosection, an Australian/Malay/Chinese Muslim mum, and author of the Ayesha Dean mystery series for children. In her spare time, she is working on her next novel for a young adult audience. Melati brought several historical Muslim women to life for the audience by recounting some monumental achievements. There is a misconception that Islam oppresses women, when in reality it is humans who oppress each other and rather Islamic guidelines provide structure where a woman can be heard and be successful with her education and/or business empire.
Proceedings were concluded with an opportunity for all attendees to network over refreshments.
Everybody had the opportunity to provide feedback after the event. A template was provided asking specifically how satisfied people were with everything from promotions before the event, to the venue and seating, to each of the speeches. We can proudly say that we received 5 out of 5 across the board!
For more information about the Suffragists
Office for Women Anniversary of Suffrage page
Office for Women Suffrage Fact Sheet
Centre of Democracy Fact Sheet