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Empowering women, reading reality and blurring the socio-economic divide: The Sisterhood of Mosman Park 

The focus of the Mosman Park Sisterhood is simple yet profound – to respond to the needs and aspirations of the women in the neighbourhood. 

“The purpose of the Sisterhood is to create a regular space where women of all backgrounds and ages can engage in discourses related to the material and spiritual well-being impacting their family, themselves and their community,” says Mosman Park Sisterhood member Fariba Fanaian. “Empowering women to collectively come together and have deep consultations on the reality of our community and how we can make transformations.” 

Formed at the end of 2020 in dedication to a local refugee Atem, the Mosman Park Sisterhood is a Baha’i-inspired initiative bringing together women of all ages and backgrounds in a process that blurs socio-economic and cultural divides, valuing the contribution of each individual and the role they play in the advancement of society. 

Participants of the Sisterhood with local refugee Atem (centre of the couch) who has since passed away, but who the initiative is dedicated to.

Fariba says the socio-economic disparity is quite acute in Mosman Park, but the Sisterhood has “removed” that. 

“At the heart of what we do is capacity building,” Fariba says. “This learning process is quite key. 

“The key principle that governs the functioning of the body is co-operation. Its various parts don’t compete for resources. Rather each cell from its inception is linked to a continuous process of giving and receiving.” 

The body politic may be likened to the human organism. As long as the various members and parts of that organism are coordinated and cooperating in harmony, we have as a result the expression of life in its fullest degree. When these members lack coordination and harmony, we have the reverse, which in the human organism is disease, dissolution, death. Similarly, in the body politic of humanity dissension, discord and warfare are always destructive and inevitably fatal. All created beings are dependent upon peace and coordination, for every contingent and phenomenal being is a composition of distinct elements. As long as there is affinity and cohesion among these constituent elements, strength and life are manifest; but when dissension and repulsion arise among them, disintegration follows.1 

‘Abdu’l-Baha

The Sisterhood currently has more than 130 women involved, with members participating in a range of social action initiatives, conversations, Baha’i moral education activities, and a variety of other projects that address the reality of those living in the neighbourhood.

Mosman Park Sisterhood members enjoying a picnic together.

Fariba says some of the social action initiatives have emerged naturally after the women have come together, consulted on their reality, and decided to address the issues impacting them and their communities. 

“So things like mental health, isolation, supporting single mums to send their children to school, and providing all the necessary resources for the building of the capacity of the women of Mosman Park,” she says. 

“One of the questions we are learning about is how can each person contribute to community life and become an active protagonist in the process. We need to have a reconceptualisation of the culture. The shift from the power of status, culture, control, domination, greed to the power of love, intuition, unity, consultation, collaboration, humility, encouragement and support. 

“We draw heavily on the qualities of cooperation and mutual assistance as a basis for how our societies advance and progress. We’re here to learn together about the role of women, we’re here to consult and continue building on this learning process.” 

Fariba spoke about the Sisterhood initiative, based out of the neighbourhood in Perth’s south-west, at a recent panel on institutional transformation at the 68th UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York. 

Co-hosted by the Canadian and Australian Offices of External Affairs, the hybrid panel titled ‘From Conflict to Collaboration: Transforming Institutions to Promote Gender Equality’ engaged 40 participants in a discussion on this year’s CSW themes of reforming institutions and addressing poverty. 

Panellists at the recent ‘From Conflict to Collaboration’: Transforming Institutions to Promote Gender Equality session held at the Baha’i International Community’s New York office.

Panelists included members of government, civil society, and local organisations from both countries with remarks focusing on the profound institutional transformation required for lasting gender equality and the means by which this could be achieved. 

Baha’i Community of Australia Office of External Affairs director, Awa Momtazian, said as society became increasingly interdependent, gender equality could only be achieved through strong relationships “not just amongst ourselves but between the private sector and multilateral forums in the public sector as well as institutions of various kinds.”      

“If there is one thing we have learned over the past few years, it is that society functions on the very human element of relationships,” she said.

Baha’i Community of Australia Office of External Affairs director, Awa Momtazian, at the recent panel discussion in New York.

A recording of the entire panel discussion is available here. 

The Baha’i International Community’s statement to CSW68 titled “Reimagining the Role of Institutions in Building Gender-Equal Societies” is available here.

Footnotes

  1. ‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 98-99[]

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Mosman Park

Mosman Park is a neighbourhood located in the south-west of Perth. With a vibrant youth movement, its residents are devoted to strengthening the community-building process through a range of activities including junior youth camps, children’s classes and the courses of the training institute. The community also conceived the Mosman Park Sisterhood – an initiative focused […]

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Published in May, 2024, in Community Stories > Community Building

Available online at: horizons.bahai.org.au/community-stories/empowering-women-reading-reality-and-blurring-the-socio-economic-divide-the-sisterhood-of-mosman-park/

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