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Muslim women aspire to lead communities

Sixteen Muslim women aged between 18 and 24 have been selected to participate in the inaugural Aspire program. The program is designed to help them become leaders and influencers within their own communities.

The idea for Aspire evolved from the understanding that the most gifted recent arrivals from migrant and refugee communities were missing out on leadership opportunities because they had not yet had the chance, or time, to form necessary social and professional networks. In Muslim communities, this lack of access to leadership opportunities is often experienced disproportionately by young women.

Program coordinator, Sophie Moore said: "Aspire aims to provide these young women with training and knowledge that they can take back to their community organisations and utilise."

Each participant is working to improve on governance within a particular organisation. Often, these organisations are suffering because of gaps in knowledge about governance requirements in Australia.

The program provides a dual benefit – boosting the governance position of the community organisations and empowering the Aspire participants to take leadership roles. Some of the knowledge gained through the training includes:

  • legal responsibilities for governing NFPs
  • the difference between governance and management
  • types of legal structures for NFPs
  • the role and function of a board
  • an organisation’s key governance documents.

The group recently took part in an orientation day and a three-day leadership camp in the Victorian bush.

The formal work started with a session on values and leadership. Then two workshops took place – on legal governance in not-for-profits; and on public speaking and dealing with the media.

Equally as important was the time allocated for social activities like drinking hot chocolate and going on a bush walk.

Participant Rasheeda Wilson said the camp was “a memorable experience”, which helped to build confidence, skills and friendships.

Over the next few months, Aspire participants will take part in four mentoring sessions. Each young woman will work with a mentor in fields such as marketing, research or law.

Four partner organisations are supporting this initiative – Justice Connect, AMES, Fitted for Work and the Ardoch Youth Foundation.

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