Fights to end all prejudices

Retires after decades steering Muslim Women’s Association

AFTER 38 years at the helm of the Muslim Women’s Association in Lakemba, Picnic Point resident Maha Abdo is stepping back to ‘mentor’ after passing the reins to new Acting CEO Nemat Kharboutli.
“It’s time to give leadership opportunities to younger women now,” she said.
“I will still be in the background and hope to remain as a conduit for bringing people together and helping to overcome discrimination.”
Dealing with prejudice is something the 63-year-old has had to deal with all of her life after arriving here from Lebanon at age 11 unable to speak a word of English.
On a mission from that age to make the world a better place, Maha invited more prejudice when she decided to start wearing the hijab after searching for spiritual awareness.
“Prejudices also compounded after global conflicts which broke down barriers of trust towards Muslims,” she said.
“My message has always been to look beyond religion and colour, no matter what your faith we are no different.”
Working tirelessly for the betterment of women during her career, Maha has advised local, national and international governments on policy, services and strategies to create harmony for future generations.
She is now planning to spend more time with her ‘Indigenous sisters and brothers’ and create a platform for their voices to be heard.
“I’m also looking forward to having more time with my four children and 13 grand-children as well as my husband Nasry but I’m not allowed to ask him to get rid of his stuff in the backyard,” she added with a laugh.
The council is arranging a civic reception for Maha as a token of appreciation for her service.