Empowering women to be the best versions of themselves
Shamaruh Mirza (PhD ’10)
02 Mar 2023
Dr Shamaruh Mirza is a senior scientist working for the Therapeutic Goods Administration. In addition to her professional role, Shamaruh is founder of the not-for-profit organisation SiTara's Story, and a committee member of the ANU Women's Alumni Network.
Dedicated to the well-being of the Canberra community, particularly those from a multicultural background, Shamaruh supports women to participate in social, cultural, economic and civic life. She has been awarded the 2021 ACT Mental Health Month Award, was a finalist for the Canberra Community Spirit Award 2021, and was awarded 2023 ACT Local Hero, for this work.
The motivation for Shamaruh to help vulnerable women stems from her country of birth, Bangladesh, where many women lack the confidence and support system to speak up about the challenges they face. Due to this, suicide and depression are rampant. When Shamaruh came to Canberra, she found a similar vulnerability for women in the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community. Shamaruh has dedicated her time and efforts since then to support women voluntarily, be it in Bangladesh or Australia, helping them address their challenges by giving them a safe space to speak up, seek help, and be there for each other when needed.
In 2017, this led to Shamaruh starting a small volunteer-run charity organisation, SiTara's Story, to help women from multicultural backgrounds. By building their confidence, and supporting their mental and physical well-being, she empowers women to be the best versions of themselves.
Despite having the will and skills to integrate into society, migrant and refugee women can be disadvantaged. Some fall behind and others experience problems related to mental health and domestic violence. But that is where SiTara's Story comes in, linking women to the right support to help them flourish through skill development and letting to share lived experiences. By providing a safe space for CALD women, SiTara's Story creates a strong support network where mental health stigma is broken.
Shamaruh is also the deputy-co chair of the CALD Network at the Department of Health, Federal Government. On account of her outstanding role in the multicultural communities in Canberra, she was invited to participate in the National Simultaneous Storytime 2022: Family Tree, organised by the Australian Library and Information Association; and presented as a panellist at the Multicultural Professional Women Conference 2022, hosted by Phoenix Sisters in Canberra, where she discussed cultural intelligence and inclusion in the workspace.
Shamaruh presently serves on the ANU Women's Alumni Network (WAN) steering committee. Find out more about WAN and how to get involved by clicking here.