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23 Mar 2021

Media releases

Australian NGO amplifies minority voices at UN Women conference

Australia will contribute to global dialogue on gender equality and amplify the experiences of minority women at the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65) conference, March15-26, 2021.

Settlement Services International (SSI) is committed to advancing women and girls’ empowerment at local, national and international levels and will host a virtual panel to a global network, “Empower into Power – Paving the Way for Minority Women to Lead in Public Life”.

The women’s panel forms part of CSW65’s schedule of online events and will include Federal MP Maria Vamvakinou, Esta Paschalidis-Chilas, Gizelle Rezende and Assistant Minister for Treasury QLD and MP Charis Mullen.

Ms Mullen said an example of Australia’s commitment to women was Queensland Government’s Office for Women, which has a dedicated Minister for Women and ensures that all Queensland Government boards are comprised of 50 per cent women.

“The QLD Office for Women leads gender equality reforms and delivers projects that support government and industry to promote and protect women’s rights, interests and wellbeing,” she said.

Ms Mullen said that the Queensland Government would continue to pursue the best way to promote progress for all women and girls, including marginalised women.

“Often, a barrier for women of minority backgrounds is language, and that’s why having the right mechanisms and dialogue like CSW is important to support and encourage women of diverse backgrounds into civic participation,” she said.

SSI held a virtual dialogue in February with refugee and migrant women from across Australia who identified priority issues affecting women in public life. Findings will be discussed by the CSW65 panel.

SSI State Director Victoria, Sonia Vignjevic, said SSI’s experience was that refugee women and girls were less likely to have career progression opportunities.

“Most refugee women remain under-represented in organisations that do not focus on women and gender issues and are also disadvantaged by unequal access to resources needed to become effective leaders,” she said.

“SSI submitted a statement to UN CSW65 earlier this year to show our support of women and girls’ leadership and participation in decision-making.”

With a Chief Executive Officer who is a woman, 65 per cent of SSI’s leadership team are women, and 57 per cent of the board are women, including the Chair.

“SSI seeks to demonstrate that meaningful participation and women’s leadership and empowerment can be realised through collaborative relationships,” Ms Vignjevic said.

With SSI’s support, youth advocate and law student Rooan Al Kalmashi was a delegate at the CSW63 at UN Headquarters in New York in 2019. She will present SSI’s findings during the online session.

Ms Al Kalmashi’s vision is to encourage active citizenship and give youth a voice from refugee and migrant backgrounds.

“Today’s young women are tomorrow’s leaders, which is why it’s critical for organisations like SSI to give them opportunities to foster their abilities, leadership and make contacts that will assist them in their future careers,” she said.

“The participation of young women also ensures that the perspectives and voices of young people are not only included but shape and set global gender equality standards.”

Event details:

The recording of the event will be made public on SSI’s channels after the event, given that the dialogue will be taking place at 2.30 am local Australian time. 

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