Local network empowers Muslim women

2016-11-30 06:00
Muslim Women’s Network members are, from left, Gamieda Windvogel, Fawzia Tobias, Maajiedah Hendricks, Zulaikha Amod, Rosheedah Hendricks (chairperson), Ahfieyah Agherdien, Sadeya Pillay, Najmiea Salie (secretary), Mariam Jordaan, Lameez Majiet-Abrahams, Soraya Adams, Fayroes Ajam, Hajira Patel and Ferhana Limbada.                                              Photo: SUPPLIED

Muslim Women’s Network members are, from left, Gamieda Windvogel, Fawzia Tobias, Maajiedah Hendricks, Zulaikha Amod, Rosheedah Hendricks (chairperson), Ahfieyah Agherdien, Sadeya Pillay, Najmiea Salie (secretary), Mariam Jordaan, Lameez Majiet-Abrahams, Soraya Adams, Fayroes Ajam, Hajira Patel and Ferhana Limbada. Photo: SUPPLIED

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WHAT started off as an informal meeting with a group of women from various parts of Nelson Mandela Bay, transformed into what is now known as the Muslim Women’s Network (MWN).

Sixteen years ago, at the Livingstone hall, the MWN was officially launched as a platform for women to work together and disseminate information while upholding Islamic norms and values.

At the launch in August 2000, the official Islamic Constitution was presented. Women from the Port Elizabeth Muslim community over the age of 80, as well as new university graduates, were acknowledged.

The MWN currently has a team of fourteen dedicated members and the main aim is to empower women in Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage.

Former Livingstone Hospital matron, Waradeya Bosch, was the MWN’s first chairperson, followed by Ahfieyah Agherdien who held office from 2008 until 2014. Najmiea Salie was the chairperson from 2014 until 2016 when a reshuffle of office bearers took place. Rosheeda Hendricks was recently selected as the current MWN chairperson and Najmiea Salie as the secretary.

Since inception, the MWN have organised many events within the framework of the Constitution to disseminate knowledge. The events include workshops, seminars and high tea functions, depending on the information presented by selected guest speakers.

Former MWN chairperson, Ahfieyah Agherdien said, “Our Constitution says we need to network with ladies by empowering them through education within the Islamic rules and values, and so we have various seminars.

“The aspect of educating women and empowering them is what the Muslim Women’s Network stands for,” she added.

The MWN seminars include business, marriage, and health presentations which are hosted in the Bay each year.

A widows awareness programme was introduced nine years ago during a high tea event held at the Livingstone hall.

The programme is still ongoing with the MWN members visiting new widows and distributing booklets prepared by Port Elizabeth-born, Sheikh Mukhtar Raban, with information on the Iddat period.

“This programme highlighted the plight some widows find themselves in as most of the ladies have no knowledge of what is expected of them,” Agherdien said. “Sadly, the Iddat period is often perceived as a punishment rather than a blessing from Allah.”

Another standard feature is the annual Ramadaan programme which now includes an outreach project.

“This has proved to be an eye opener but also immensely rewarding to the members as well as the recipients, as contact has been made with homes for abused women and the Rape Crisis Centre, Agherdien said.

“Handbags with care kits have been distributed to these centres and it has also become an ongoing project,” she added.

The members who have been with the network since inception are Mariam Jordaan, Soraya Adams, Fawzia Tobias and Ahfieyah Agherdien.

The MWN has monthly meetings held on the first Monday of the month at the home of the selected hostess. The meeting follows a structured format and plans for upcoming events are discussed.

“It is also at these meetings where the members learn, grow and gain self-confidence to conduct themselves as programme directors and perform various duties at the various functions, Agherdien said.

The MWN recently held a dinner at the NAFA Sports Hall in Gelvandale with the aim of raising cancer awareness.

The event was well attended by over 150 women. As part of the event, a panel discussion was hosted by local journalist, Gishma Johnson.

The panel included a 12-year-old Acute Lymphoblastic survivor, a 37-year-old double mastectomy breast cancer survivor, a 56-year-old stage 4 ovarian cancer survivor, as well as a subject expert and the representative of the Sunflower Fund.

“In accordance with our mission statement, the MWN is for all ladies of all ages and all colour and creeds, regardless of race and religion, Alhamdulillah,” Agherdien said.

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