Strength in diversity
The Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights – formerly the Islamic Women’s Welfare Council of Victoria – was established in response to a need for culturally appropriate housing and domestic violence services for Muslim women. We were founded on the belief that meaningful change in the status of Muslim women can be achieved through improving the situation of Muslim women individually and building their capacity collectively.
We are a non-religious, grassroots organisation reflecting the cultural, linguistic and sectarian diversity within Muslim communities. Committed to Muslim women and human rights, we will not remain silent when Islam is used to undermine the status of Muslim women. In such instances, we will adopt a social justice lens to intervene with facts and informed analysis.
We pay homage to the visionary women who helped establish us, and look forward to a future where all Muslim women can achieve self-determination and fulfilment in all aspects of their lives.
Our first meeting was held in August 1991. It was attended by Muslim women across the community and welfare sectors. In December 2012, our name was changed to the Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights to better reflect our significant role as a human rights defender. This change recognises the singularity of our voice and work on Muslim women’s human rights across Australia.
Since our inception, we have created and helped develop programs, services, advocacy and research initiatives that elevate and amplify the voices of Muslim women in Australia.
A non-religious organisation
The diversity of Muslim communities in Australia means there is insufficient consensus on critical issues related to the status of Muslim women in Islam. For this reason, we are a non-religious organisation.
This recognition of plurality ensures our accessibility and relevance to all sects, schools of thought and groups within the Muslim community.
It allows us to work with all Muslim women.
Inspiring positive action
Our intent is to challenge cultural hierarchies or any system of oppression or exclusion that results in reducing the rights and status of Muslim women.
Our framework of understanding is the international Muslim women’s movement for equality and dignity, but our action and concern is focused on the local communities in Australia where Muslim women live.
We aim to inspire positive action by others and to continuously enhance the quality, impact and effectiveness of our work.
The movement for justice and equality
Today, all over the world, Muslim women are working and mobilising for change. This global movement for parity is relevant to Australian Muslim women, whether as immigrants or daughters of immigrants, because it brings us closer to the challenge of equality in our Australian context.
It involves not just equality with Muslim men, but equality with all Australian citizens.
Islam in the context of our history
For the most part, Muslim women who migrated to Australia did so as descendants of a rich, pluralistic tradition, but also as bearers of significant disadvantage, discrimination and, at times, violence.
In the context of our history, Islam has been both a liberating and oppressive force in the lives of women, influenced by the vision and limitations of patriarchal society.
Strength in diversity
How Islam was understood and brought to bear on the status of women is a testament to the diversity and plurality of tradition and practice. There has been not one Islam in which all Muslims have participated, but a multiplicity of Islamic interpretations in which many people have lived.
We believe there is not one view of Islam that represents all Muslims in Australia. Further, we believe the diversity of Muslims in Australia is a strength.
This ensures our work is accessible and relevant to all Muslim women.
The Australian Muslim Women's Centre for Human Rights acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we conduct our work, and that sovereignty has never been ceded. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future.