Staff use theatre to tackle the patriarchy for International Women’s Day

WSLHD and ADSI actors Saira Mohammad, Alison Jones, Sherbanu Oomatia, Fouzia Hamdard, Iman Ibrahim, Amina Hadi, Karen Li and Dipti Zachariah.


That was the word youth worker Saira Mohammad used to describe an International Women’s Day collaboration between the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) Multicultural Health team and Auburn Diversity Services Inc (ADSI).

The morning started with a 150-strong crowd of empowered women marching through the streets of Auburn with banners loudly proclaiming their message, “an equal world is an enabled world.”

The celebration then took an artistic twist as staff from both organisations staged a ‘participatory theatre’ play called I Am Amina, written by WSLHD Multicultural Health team leader Dipti Zachariah.

The play – which saw actors perform alongside the audience and engage directly with them – challenged concepts around gender equality and women’s identity, with the aim of tackling patriarchal values and stereotypes.

It was staged in five languages to reach Auburn’s diverse population: English, Arabic, Dari, Mandarin and Urdu.

WSLHD Multicultural Health program officer Fouzia Hamdard and Dari bilingual worker Amina Hadi.

Audience member Zeynab Zaineddine said the play was “beyond amazing”.

“Every woman can relate to it. Yes we are all educated and working, but unfortunately we are still referred to as the ‘wife of’, ‘daughter of’ or ‘mother of’. That message was so strong and the way it was done is so clever,” Zeynab said.

WSLHD Dari bilingual worker and midwife Amina Hadi said she enjoyed the unique experience being part of the play.

“Together we passed the most important messages to the women in our community. Hopefully they have learned through the play to stand strong for their rights and will be able to bring gender equality,” Amina said.

Dipti said it was wonderful to see staff flex their creative muscles to bring the play to life.

“Their enthusiastic contribution made people aware that women’s struggle for equality needs to be collectively owned by one and all,” she said.

“The day reminded us again that this collective effort to make our world an equal world for one and all is not restricted to a day, but it’s an intentional journey that needs to begin in every home, in every institution, in every organisation, in every country and more importantly in every heart.”