Donning a cream coloured scarf, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Saturday, August 24, spoke at the Islamic Women's Council national conference and encouraged attendees present there to take active participation in leadership roles. 

The attendees posed a question for PM Ardern on how can they 'rise as leaders' in an environment where racism is a huge challenge, to which Ms Ardern suggested the idea of a political forum for women.

"Let's create a political forum for women where we can spend some time together as politicians and women with those who are interested in taking leadership roles because there is so much I would love to share, and my little answer isn't going to satisfy me," Ms Ardern added. 

Michael Craig, NZ Herald

Ms Ardern also mentioned that the government is taking steps to create equal opportunities for all New Zealanders to combat discrimination, racism and an important role education played in this. 

The annual conference that was held at Zayed College for Girls in Mangere also hosted workshops that discussed subjects like religion, health, and safety on social media. 

The session attended by 250 people also reflected on the tough year for the Muslim community in New Zealand following the March 15 attacks at two Christchurch mosques that took 51 lives and injured 49. 

Ms Ardern acknowledged the leaders of the Islamic Women's Council of New Zealand, saying she had known some of them for a very long time and with some leaders, she met very recently citing the Christchurch Mosque attack.

"I wish I would have met you under different circumstances," Ms Ardern said. 

Speaking to The Indian Weekender, Islamic Women Council New Zealand Government Engagement Advisor, Aliya Danzeisen said that the attendees were taken by a huge surprise when PM Ardern mentioned about creating a political forum for women. 

Michael Craig, NZ Herald

"It was delightful to hear the encouraging words from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern that has inspired young women present at the annual conference who now aspire to get involved in leadership positions in different boards and government too someday," Ms Danzeisen said.

"We are coordinating with the Prime Minister's Office who will keep us in the loop when things are finalized about the forum and then make an announcement," Ms Danzeisen added. 

Ms Danzeisen iterated that through an annual conference like this, IWCNZ was able to get a good number of young women at the forum and engage them in progressive dialogue. 

The theme of the annual conference 'Aspire' encouraged the attendees to discuss and focus on aspiring for a better world, held advocacy workshop, aspire others in crafts, and discuss mental health and wellness of women as individuals and in families.

Michael Craig, NZ Herald