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Women for diversity

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The Lajna Imaillah Symposium brings together women from the worlds of faith, politics and civic society

The Lajna Imaillah Women’s Auxiliary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association recently held an Interfaith Symposium to discuss the role of women in today’s society. Nearly 200 women from all walks of life, including Members of Parliament, leaders of interfaith networks, local Councillors and leading members of religious groups attended the ladies-only event held at the Bait-ul-Salam Centre in Langwarrin.
Lajna Imaillah.Indian Link
The Association’s Khola Usman introduced the guests to the audience and provided a brief history of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. She also spoke about the extensive humanitarian work being conducted by the organisation.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (India) founded the Ahmadiyya Community in 1889. The current head of the community is Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad who lives in the UK.
Lajna Imaillah (maid servants of Allah) is the women’s auxiliary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association and encourages the participation of Ahmadi women in all facets of wider society for the continued success of the community.
“The community’s motto is ‘love for all and hatred for none’ and we are deeply committed to upholding this doctrine,” said Program Coordinator Kaukab Nasir. “For many years the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has promoted open interfaith dialogue to remove misunderstanding and to achieve inter-religious harmony. This event is to engage in a meaningful dialogue and infuse mutual understanding among those with different beliefs.”
The event began with a recitation from Holy Quran that was also translated in English for the benefit of the multicultural audience. Inga Peulich MLC was the first speaker. She gave an impassioned speech on the importance of empowering women whilst reinforcing positive role modeling for future generations.
Lajna Imaillah.Indian Link
Anglican leader Christine Manktelow spoke about the role of women in the Christian community and within wider society. Kingston Mayor Tamsin Bearsley gave a personal account of her initial disenchantment with her own religion that discouraged civic participation and voting, and at times discouraged women from speaking up. She described herself as a lifelong rebel against such practices and reinforced the need to respect and recognise the rights and beliefs of others.
Former Mayor of Manningham City Jennifer Yang, Buddhist Society’s Helen Richardson and Indian Link Melbourne Coordinator Preeti Jabbal also spoke about their experiences within their respective religions.
President Mansoora Sayeda offered the vote of thanks and the Symposium came to conclusion with a silent prayer that was followed by a delicious lunch.
“It was a wonderful experience to be one of the speakers at this event discussing the role of modern Sikh Women,” said Preeti Jabbal. “We live in the 21st century, a good 100 plus years away from the establishment of first female suffrage in the 19th century in Australia, and we are still talking about gender bias and need for equality!”
“The pertinent questions today are; will it be possible to rise above this constant striving for gender rights and equality and reach a stage where it is just about capability and progress? And will this happen in our lifetime?” she asked. “To find the answers and expedite the process we need to continue to engage in dialogues like these that lead to subsequent equitable beliefs, systems and policies.”

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