Women are the peacemakers

October 6, 2016 by Natalee Pozniak
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Over 300 women leaders from diverse cultural and faith backgrounds have shared a festive meal in Sydney.

Guests came from a range of backgrounds, including Indigenous, African, Greek, Jewish, Indian, South Asian, Muslim, Chinese, Pacific Islander and Filipino at the 2016 Women of Diversity Dinner held at the Sapphire Function Centre in Auburn.

Emelda Davis and Lynda Ben-Menashe

Emelda Davis and Lynda Ben-Menashe

“Women are Peacemakers” was the key message at the event themed ‘Harmony starts at home’ and designed to build relationships among women who otherwise might never have the opportunity to meet and to build bridges.

Juliana Nkrumah, founder of African Women Australia and Statewide Coordinator of the NSW Police Force Multicultural Community Liaison Officer Program was the keynote speaker. She is well-known for her campaigning against Female Genital Mutilation and was awarded an Order of Australia in 2013 for her work supporting women and refugees.

A special address was given by MP Linda Burney, the newly elected member for Barton and the first female indigenous member of federal parliament. Ms Burney reflected on how far society has come by electing an indigenous female to federal parliament, which would have been near impossible several decades ago. She said the female experience in indigenous communities was not dissimilar to that experienced by immigrant groups and she hoped her election to federal parliament would serve as an inspiration not only to indigenous women, but all women in Australia.

A number of special guests were invited to share their stories, giving poignant examples of how ‘harmony starts at home’.

A key point was that women are the central force in any family and policies that support women will have the greatest positive future impact on our society as a whole.

Comedian Jennifer Wong tied the night together by infusing her signature humour in her role as MC.

“It was very significant to have such a large group of women representing so many different cultural backgrounds together in one place with the overarching aim of addressing shared concerns and creating friendships,” said Lynda Ben-Menashe, Community Relations Manager of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and one of the organisers.

Lynda Ben-Menashe said the focus on an event created by women, just for women was intentional. “When women come together, there is a natural connection that transcends barriers. Events like this can do much to bring about greater understanding and acceptance in our communities. We need this now more than ever.”

The meal was served by women refugees who started catering businesses and a number of tickets to the dinner were sponsored so that new arrivals to Australia could attend and establish deeper connections to others in the wider community.

The guests were treated to musical entertainment by Dalia Dior who sang in French, Hebrew and Arabic and performances from Tongan, African and Indian dancers.

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