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African leaders emerge

Four people wearing headdresses and brightly coloured robes standing together.

Twenty-six African women have graduated from a special leadership course run by RMIT University, as part of the City of Melbourne’s Empowering Women Project.

Halima Mohamed, a former member of parliament in Somalia, said the participants came from diverse backgrounds and cultures, some highly educated and others with little or no formal education.

‘The City of Melbourne was keen to empower all of us, and now the women can go back into their communities and provide grass roots support to others,’ Halima said.

‘When you build the confidence of women, that’s when communities flourish.’

Zeineb Mahmud, president of the African Australian women’s council in Victoria, said migrant women show great courage in coming to Australia, however many lose confidence when they arrive and find it hard to integrate into society.

This is due to differences in culture and environment, and limited language skills can also make it hard for women to assist their children with their studies.

‘The women love to study, work and do their best, but often find it hard to get employment,’ Zeineb said.

‘This leadership education and recognition from RMIT is something respectable and valuable. It will help women generate sustainable income, create new social enterprise and do something which has value.

‘It’s about being participants, not recipients, and it’s about dignity.’

‘When you build the confidence of women, that’s when communities flourish.’

The graduates agree that the course has increased their confidence and team management skills through peer-to-peer empowerment.

Through empowering African women, they aim to empower the wider community, making Australia a fairer country for women.

‘I would like to see more women realise how wonderful and powerful they are,’ Zeineb said.

Find out more about the African-Australian Community Partnership Project.

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