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02 Mar 2021

Media releases

Culturally diverse women leaders to provide insight on how to break ‘glass ceiling’

Three female leaders who “broke the glass ceiling” in their fields will share their stories and advice on overcoming professional challenges during an International Women’s Day event designed to educate and empower women from across NSW.

Women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds have significantly lower rates of employment than their peers and are often locked out of leadership roles. Three women who have overcome these barriers will share their stories at the 2nd Innate Power of Women Forum – a free online event to be held on Monday, March 8, from 12:30 to 2pm.

The forum will share information on pathways to leadership, mentoring and networking, especially relevant to NSW women from CALD backgrounds, who often face dual biases related to their gender and culture.

Speakers at the event include:

• Rosemary Kariuki, Australian Local Hero of the Year 2021
• Violet Roumeliotis AM, CEO of Settlement Services International (SSI)
• Melissa Monteiro, CEO of Community Migrant Resource Centre (CMRC)

Event convenor and well-known lawyer and advocate Pallavi Sinha will moderate the panel.

“As part of celebrating International Women’s Day, we are excited that inspiring women leaders will share their success stories, challenges and information on pathways to leadership and how to contribute positively to Australian society,” said Ms Sinha.

NSW Minister for Women, the Honourable Bronnie Taylor said it was important for female leaders to share their experiences.

“One of the best things we can do as female leaders is to tell own our story and tell it authentically to encourage other women to pursue the areas that they are passionate about – even when the going gets tough,” said Minister Taylor.

SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said women from migrant and refugee backgrounds were at the intersection of gender and culture and often experienced additional challenges in their professional journeys.

“The unemployment rate for female migrants, for example, is higher than both migrant men and Australian-born women, while one in four women from diverse backgrounds have been forced to scale back at work due to cultural barriers,” she said.

“This presents a significant challenge – but also such an opportunity. All research shows that diversity contributes to a company’s success, so imagine the returns if employers could extend the diversity of their workforce and leadership teams to include gender, age, culture, sexual orientation and even life experience.”

In the wake of the impact of COVID-19 on employment, events such as the 2nd Innate Power of Women Forum will provide CALD women with firsthand guidance they need to achieve their professional goals and meaningfully contribute to Australian society.

The 2nd Innate Power of Women is organised by Lawyers with Solutions and supported by Settlement Services International, Commonwealth Bank and Community Migrant Resource Centre.

The speakers:

Rosemary Kariuki
Rosemary Kariuki is the multicultural community liaison officer for the Parramatta Police. She specialises in helping migrants who are facing domestic violence, language barriers and financial distress. Rosemary fled Kenya alone in 1999 to escape family abuse and tribal clashes. Her experience helped her recognise that isolation is a huge issue for many migrant women. In partnership with the African Women’s Group, she founded the African Women’s Dinner Dance and the African Village Market.

Violet Roumeliotis AM
Violet Roumeliotis AM is a social entrepreneur who champions the strengths of diverse communities. Through her C-suite and board roles, Violet uses innovation and collective impact to promote social justice and inclusion in all forms. She is the CEO of Settlement Services International, a community organisation and social business that supports newcomers and other vulnerable individuals to achieve their full potential.

Melissa Monteiro
Melissa Monteiro is the Chief Executive Officer of the Community Migrant Resource Centre. She has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Social Work, and over 25 years of experience within the community sector. Melissa topped the Collaboration category of the 2019 Impact 25 awards. She is currently the Chair of the Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA), has been appointed to the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW, and is Director at Western Sydney Community Forum.

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