The second of April on one sunny Saturday afternoon marked the day of the first ever Muslim Women in Academia High Tea. The event organised by the Centre of Islamic Studies and Civilisation (CISAC) and Islamic Sciences Research Academy (ISRA), harmoniously brought together courageous, hard-working and inspiring Muslim women. Women of all fields of endeavour from law, medicine and religion to various sciences whom have dedicated their energy and efforts towards improving communities not only within Australia but also around the world. Such an attendance was key to the purpose of the event which was aimed to provide a platform for Muslim Women in Academia to network, discuss and engage with one another in the hope to broaden their knowledge, opportunities and build upon potential community projects for the future.
Flowers of coral and peach, pink napkins, little cups and saucepans lit up the table and set the perfect canvas for a great afternoon as the ladies took to their seats. As introductions and discussions were well underway, the MC Ramia Sultan (Family Lawyer, CISAC Research Team) introduced the first speaker. The founder of the CISAC Research Team, Dr Derya Iner (Research Fellow at Charles Sturt University). Dr Iner centred her speech on the direction and objectives of the team with the main goal, ‘towards improving Australia and for the betterment of humanity.’
The guest speaker, Dr Ghena Krayem took to the stage with determination as she reflected upon the hardships faced as a young Muslim woman not only at one of Australia’s leading universities in the faculty of Law but also as one of the very few veiled Muslims at her university. She highlighted some of the challenges she faced as a Muslim woman in Academia from colleagues being intimidated by her choice of dress to students after twelve weeks of class recognising that indeed she was the Lecturer and not a student. Such a deep reflection provided the women with encouragement and perseverance as they looked upon her with admiration and respect for her struggles.
Arguably the most momentous talks of the afternoon were in fact the round table discussions. Each woman spoke about their challenges, achievements, stories, current projects and future goals which was accompanied by savouries, pasties and gourmet sandwiches along with assorted flavours of tea which brought delighted cheers to the esteemed guests. Dr Wahida Rahman, in the field of Human Rights who has established orphanages around the globe noted that what she liked most about the event was, ‘hearing and sharing stories of our career journeys and the wealth of knowledge, as well as the delicious food.’ Dr Freba Olime a Lecturer in Chemical Technology enjoyed, ‘meeting and learning how Muslim women are contributing to this society.’ These stories and perspectives led into further discussion and individualised networking as the guests were served French desert and exchanged contacts for future engagement.
The event concluded with little glass mug bonbonnieres as a token of appreciation by the CISAC Research Team to the guests and a group photo. The event marked the first of any future events and emphasised on the need to bring remarkable women together to establish prosperous future projects towards the advancement of the smaller community and broader society. This was common belief and direction shared amongst all the attendees.