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Sir Zelman Cowen Centre awarded grant

The 2018 Aspire participants

The Sir Zelman Cowen Centre has been awarded a $280,000 grant from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.

The grant was awarded to the centre's innovative program Aspire: Young Muslim Women’s Governance and Leadership Training Program.

Aspire program opens doors for young Muslim women

The Aspire program aims to broaden the social participation of talented young Australian Muslim women who have leadership potential, and increase their social networks outside of their immediate peer group and family. It opens professional doors to people who don't otherwise have job networks, while offering career-enhancement opportunities and promoting social inclusion.

Supported by the Islamic Council of Victoria, the program recently invited 32 high-achieving Muslim women who work within the Muslim community to improve a selected aspect of an organisation's governance. Throughout the program, participants developed individual leadership skills.

Grant will help embed program in the community

The new grant will help embed the highly successful program within the Muslim community. Selected alumnae from the first two programs will access further training in project management, facilitation, event management and marketing. With this knowledge, they will progressively assume responsibility for subsequent iterations of the program in 2019 and 2020.

“We are looking forward to undertaking a project that is not only worthwhile for the young women we reach, but which also has the potential to establish a sustainable model for community development initiatives.” 

Kathy Laster, Director Sir Zelman Cowen Centre. 

Aya El Kady, one of the participants in the Aspire 2018 program, observes that: "What makes Aspire unique is that it really challenges ostracised, young Muslim women to traverse beyond their comfort zone, requiring them to demonstrate exemplary governance and leadership skills through a train-the-trainer approach, which obliges them to share their skills with their communities. Aspire provides a voice to the voiceless, by empowering Muslim women to be a force of change in our communities and in wider society."

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