SSI News Blog

Nearly 200 women from diverse backgrounds took the opportunity of SSI’s International Women’s Day (IWD) event, Empowering Women through Employment, to discuss the strengths of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) women in the workplace.

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Participants in the Empowering Women Through Engagement Table Talks

The table talks were held at the Novotel, Parramatta, on February 28, in the lead up to IWD on March 8.

The women from CALD backgrounds, including community leaders and leaders from the corporate world, were joined by Federal Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, and Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash.

Along with the ministers, Hawanatu Bangura, an entrepreneur and former refugee, spoke to the gathering.

Ms Bangura arrived in Australia in 2002 as a refugee from Sierra Leone. With the support of SSI’s Ignite Small Business Start-ups, she founded Mahawa Creative, a storytelling agency that helps organisations and individuals to craft meaningful narratives.

Ms Bangura said the table talks were a great opportunity to talk about her journey with likeminded women.

“We have all had similar challenges when it comes to finding employment. Talking to these women really encouraged me and validated my experiences,” she said.

The positive energy of Ministers Cash and Payne was also a highlight for Ms Bangura.

“Listening to Minister Cash’s and Minister Payne’s speeches, and seeing their friendship, was an inspiring reminder that it is possible for women to make it in politics. There is still so much to do and young women need positive role models in this space.”

After the event, SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis explained that Empowering Women through Employment recognised that women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds were at a unique intersection of gender and culture that could limit employment opportunities and career progression.

“In order to drive change on a larger scale, we need to ensure the voices of women from CALD backgrounds are front and centre. Let’s be #EachforEqual,” she said, referring to an IWD theme.

Learn more about SSI's Employment program here

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