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Women and Girls

SSI is an organisation that was founded by, employs, and supports, many women. Empowering women in our sphere of influence is embedded within our core purpose.

According to our research, women in Australia do not achieve equitable outcomes in social and financial wellbeing, level of influence, access to public office and career pathways. The situation is even more dire for women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds including, migrants and refugees backgrounds.

Government and influential women’s organisations have highlighted that economic empowerment, safe housing, freedom from all forms of violence and freedom of socio-political involvement are the most important goals to work towards advancing outcomes for women.

Addressing these goals for our female staff, clients and multicultural communities at large will contribute to their safety, career development, independence, wellbeing and ability to make positive choices.

Watch: SSI’s International Women’s Day Event 2024

How does SSI help?

SSI launched our Women and Girls Strategic Plan that focuses on all women employed and supported by SSI. The plan has a particular emphasis on women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. 

The overarching goals of the plan are to advance and protect the rights of women and girls, and drive change towards safety, equal choice, prosperity, and economic empowerment. These goals are broken down into five strategic pillars: 

  • Economic empowerment
  • Leadership
  • Learning & growth
  • Health & wellbeing
  • Safety and security
  • Advocacy and public policy

Read our Women and Girls Strategic Plan in full. SSI is committed to modelling these goals internally within our own processes and have begun to implement changes based on the early recommendations from this plan.

What has SSI done to advance gender equality in the last 12 months?

The SSI Women and Girls Strategy targets all women employed and supported by SSI. The plan has a particular focus on women of culturally and racially marginalised (CARM) backgrounds, who make up a large proportion of our constituency. Over the past year, we have made significant progress in improving gender equality in our community, with particular highlights including:

  • In consortium with Diversity Council of Australia (DCA) and Chief Executive Women (CEW), SSI launched a new project – RISE – funded by the Office for Women under the Women’s Leadership and Development Program to address the systematic barriers restricting culturally and racially marginalised (CARM) women’s upward mobility into leadership roles in Australian organisations.
  • Shining a light on action needed to unlock the economic potential of migrant and refugee women through SSI – commissioned research, identifying the barriers inhibiting CARM women from making a meaningful economic contribution.
  • Doubling the allocation of domestic and family violence leave available to staff from five to ten days, ahead of the government introduction of this policy, providing greater financial support for victim-survivors.
  • Introducing a greater focus on women to our tendering and business development framework, with nine funding applications and pitches for programs and initiatives with women as the primary beneficiary. In the 2023-2024 financial year, SSI has already been successful in securing projects for five gender focused projects.
Phase two of the strategy is currently in development.
Four women entwined on their backs

Rise. Inspire. Support. Energise. (RISE)

RISE is a collaborative/partnership project between Diversity Council of Australia (DCA), SSI (lead) and Chief Executive Women (CEW) that aims to address systemic barriers in career progression and leadership for women from culturally and racially marginalised (CARM) backgrounds. RISE stands for Recognise, Inspire, Support, Energise and signals rising in the leadership journey of CARM women.

This project is funded by the Office for Women (Prime Minister and Cabinet) through the Women’s Leadership & Development Program 2022 – 2026.
DCA will work with 25 organisations across Australia (NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia) to implement organisational change interventions. SSI will work with 15 CARM women nominated in each of the 25 organisations to work through career advancement and leadership development. Participants will get an opportunity to opt into the third partner’s program – the CEW Women’s Leadership Program.

Learn more here.

IWD events and advocacy

Across SSI, several events are held over International Women’s Day (IWD) ranging from discussion sessions to online webinars and involvement in campaigns. Our international advocacy in 2022 saw SSI at the Commission of Status of Women in New York where we co-facilitated a conversation circle of over a hundred people focused on racism, colonisation, migrants and refugees, a parallel event on multicultural communities in regional Australia and another on refugees in the Asia Pacific region together with APNOR (Asia Pacific Network of Refugees).

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