Inspirational event celebrates International Women’s Day

On Friday, March 6, Diaspora Action Australia hosted a Friends of DAA event to commemorate 

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International Women’s Day. Over 60 people were in attendance, including members of DAA’s partner organisations and the broader human rights community.

The occasion was part of a global celebration highlighting the economic, political and social achievements of women while underscoring the need for greater progress on gender equality. 

Zakia Baig, founder of the Hazara Women’s Friendship Network, gave the keynote speech at the event. Zakia’s story is inspirational in many ways, not least for the enduring struggle of the Hazara people who live under persecution as a result of sectarian conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Zakia has overcome a myriad of obstacles, amongst them a stubborn patriarchal system and death threats to her life, to become a renowned human rights activist devoted to empowering the women in her community. Her dedication to this cause led her all the way to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) where she took part in a policy-making panel created to ameliorate the situation of women within minority groups.

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Zakia spoke at length about her humble beginnings, her journey through university and the challenge of raising a family while being a leader in her community. Zakia’s powerful and poignant message urged women in the audience to persevere with their ambitions and to continue fighting for equality. She also spoke on the need for men to be part of the solution and to not feel threatened about women’s empowerment, for this will benefit society as a whole.

Also on the night the Ava Iranian Women’s Choir were in attendance as special guests. The Choir, composing eight Iranian women, sang two choruses in Farsi and another in English, the latter a prayer calling for global unity under the banner of ‘One Planet, One People’. 

Jorge Gamba 

Writer