Captain Mona Shindy, who is the Australian Navy’s first Hijab-wearing Muslim captain. Oh but her accolades don’t just end there. She is a Navy Weapons Electrical Engineer and the Chief of Navy’s Strategic Adviser on Islamic Cultural Affairs.
Her journey to making history in the Australian military was a long road, but well values it as she is now representative of the increasingly-diverse Australian population as well as part of a generation of women breaking the mold that their mothers and grandmothers weren’t able to do.
As a 3-year-old girl Mona migrated from Egypt to Australia with her family and settled in the beach suburb of Maroubra, in Sydney. Her father sadly passed away when she was only 14, so Mona got to see her mom raise 4 children on her own.
“She is a strong lady and she gave us the right steer, looked after us and got us through university. It wasn’t easy because we had no other family in Australia and we were quite isolated,” she told Viralwomen.com.
That situation made her focus on her studies and allow her to achieve the success she has today. Mona now has 3 children of her own and has been in the Navy for 26 years after following in her older brother’s steps.
Along with her aforementioned roles as well as being the Director of Littoral Warfare and Maritime Support for the Royal Australian Navy, Mona says her job as the Strategic Adviser on Islamic Cultural Affairs is an important one especially when it comes to communication and cooperation with Muslim allies
In an interview with the Canberra Times, Mona talks about how she has dealt with negativity specifically directed at her. She was featured in an article on another major Australian newspaper and one of the comments underneath came from a person who called her “filth”.
“That’s reality, that’s what’s out there. You’ve got to live with it in the perspective that Muslim people in Australia have lived with varying degrees of comments over the years,” Mona told David Ellery at the Canberra Times.
In a statement about the significance of her award, Mona had this to say: “As a senior military officer and engineer, project director and business leader, being successful as a female has always just been one piece of the puzzle. Effecting necessary change, in business practice or community attitudes, requires strong leadership by example.”
It is a great reminder to all of us that we can lead by example in our lives and change the world for the better.