Cultural celebration of Women’s Day

Attendees at the International Women''s Day & Nawruz festival event.

More than 200 members of the Afghan community celebrated International Women’s Day and the Nawruz Festival last month with the Bakhtar Community Association.

The joint event was held in Somerville on Friday 12 March and featured speeches from Bassir Qadiri, chairperson of Bakhtar; Cranbourne MP Pauline Richards, Russell Barrett of Victoria Police, Bakhtar Cultural Association youth coordinator Benazir Rasoli and Ashleigh Newnham from Monash Legal Service.

The speeches were followed by poetry, artistic Indian dance, award presentations, live music, Afghan national dances and a fashion show.

Bakhtar Women of The Year Award is an annual award program initiated by Bakhtar Cultural Association in 2019 to acknowledge the exceptional contribution, achievements and commitment of Afghan Women in Australia.

This year saw a number of outstanding and inspirational finalists nominated from many parts of Australia, all of whom received a nomination certificate on the night:

· Drkhanai Sayed Ansari – Melbourne

· Gulgotai Bezhan – Melbourne

· Maryam Zahid – Sydney

· Mursal Jamshedi – Adelaide

· Roia Atmar – Perth

· Zahra Haidar Big – Shepparton

Maryam Zahid won the title of Bakhtar Women of the Year 2021 and the award was presented to her by Ms Richards.

Maryam Zahid came to Australia as a refugee in 1999 at age 20.

She works as a domestic violence prevention project officer for Sydney West Multicultural Services, working with community leaders and with newly arrived refugees and migrants in Western Sydney.

She is a bilingual health educator at NSW Refugee Health and also volunteers for various community causes.

She is the founder and director of ‘Afghan Women on the Move’, an initiative which mentors refugee women, nurturing self-empowerment through art and cultural programs and storytelling.

As well, Maryam is an emerging theatre writer. Her theatre show The Good Woman, which was launched in August 2019, has been a spectacular success.

As the founder of the Afghan Women on the Move Inc, Maryam has successfully led refugee women in arts and cultural programs as part of the Daneha exhibition and performance program at Blacktown Arts.

Also on the day, Navid Forogh and Favad Hassani received recognition awards for their contribution towards the Afghan community through Bakhtar Cultural Association.

The event was supported by the City of Casey, the Victorian Government, Victorian Multicultural Commission and PRD Legal.