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15 Mar 2021


Achieving an equal future for women

Food preperation at the Refugee Welcome Centre’s International Women’s Day celebration.

The issues facing women today have been kept front of mind recently with mass women’s rallies across Australia and ongoing reports of inappropriate, disturbing behaviour by our parliamentarians, alongside continued gender pay disparities.

It is a reminder that gender equity is an ideal we have not achieved and must continue to fight for, particularly in the workplace.

With over 70 per cent of SSI’s staff, and a large proportion of our client base, identifying as women, gender equity is cemented at the top of SSI and Access’s priorities.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme of women in leadership is closely aligned with SSI’s Women and Girls Strategic Plan for 2021-2023, which SSI launched on Tuesday.

Leadership and economic empowerment are key pillars of this plan, which aligns with SSI’s three-year Strategic Plan.

Untitled design Max Quality 2

Newly arrived women from refugee backgrounds and volunteers celebrate International Women’s Day.

Our Women and Girls Strategic Plan recognises that SSI works with many talented women who could benefit from targeted strategies and interventions, so that they too can achieve their aspirations.

In developing this strategy, we wanted to properly understand the issues women face in Australia – particularly women from migrant and refugee backgrounds, who account for such a sizable portion of our staff and client group.

We held roundtables with clients and staff to identify these issues. Not surprisingly, the key themes from this included careers, economic security and working conditions.

Our plan recognises that we all have intersectional layers of identity that impact how we experience the world.

It encompasses women of all backgrounds, including transgender women, people who identify as nonbinary, and other diverse genders.

At the launch, SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis shared that she looks forward to fully embedding the plan’s initiatives, which will improve our society and our organisation, over the next three years and beyond.

“SSI will work with staff and the community to ensure that all our offices and programs are safe spaces, where all staff and clients, regardless of gender identity, feel they have the space and support then need to grow professionally and personally,” she said.

To mark International Women’s Day Violet also attended the 2nd Innate Power of Women Forum, an external event hosted by Lawyers with Solutions, which focused on equipping culturally diverse women with the skills they need to break the ‘professional glass ceiling’ and reach their full potential.

A celebration of the value, contributions, and strength of newly arrived women from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds was held last Friday, March 1 at the The Community Refugee Welcome Centre in Lilyfield.

The event, organised by the Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP) Women’s Committee in partnership with the Inner West Council, kicked off with a smoking ceremony performed by First Nations Elder, Aunty Jenny, and was followed by a welcome to the country, guest speakers, an art exhibition showcase painting by HSP’s client’s, a multicultural dance, food, and tour around Callan Park.

Untitled design Max Quality 1HSP’s client Nawres Abood showcasing her paintings.

It has been really refreshing that both events recognised the unique space that culturally and linguistically diverse women occupy.

We are at the intersection of gender and culture. This gives us a lot of strengths, including a unique perspective. But it also comes with challenges that are beyond those typically discussed at International Women’s Day events.

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