International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th every year. It celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. However, women are still left behind in social, economic and political matters. This is often caused by conscious or subconscious bias against them. The theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. Acknowledging that bias exists isn’t enough. We need to do more to challenge the bias. Whether you’re male or female, you can do your part to encourage girls and women to achieve their goals. Keen to get on board? Here are some ideas to get you started:
7 things you can do on International Women’s Day to Break the Bias
- Tell the women in your life how much you appreciate them for who they are and what they do. Your mother, grandmother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, aunt, niece, cousin, colleague, neighbour, teacher……the list goes on and on.
- Support the businesswomen in your community. Find out which local businesses are run by women and buy from them or recommend their services to friends. Talk to a local female service provider or business owner to offer your moral support.
- Take a moment to celebrate the achievements of women, including women of colour. Against all odds, these women have succeeded in arenas such as science, research, politics, music, arts, business and social justice.
- Be informed on issues women face – domestic violence, sexual harassment, mental illness, homelessness, reproductive health, etc. Do you know a girl or woman who may be in danger of facing one or any of these issues? Call the person to find out how she is.
- Find out which local organizations offer help to women facing difficulties. These include government or non-governmental organizations, social enterprises and grassroots support groups. You may not be able or qualified to assist, but you may know of an organization which can help.
- Invest some of your time, money or talent by volunteering at social organizations assisting women and children. These may be for one-off projects or require ongoing help – there is always a way to help that suits your lifestyle.
- Challenge the bias you or your friends have towards girls and women in various sectors. For example, many women face difficulties gaining success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields because of deeply-ingrained bias by men AND women.
by Maureen Yeow
With the COVID situation easing in Queensland, life is slowly getting back to normal. However, many families are still struggling with a diminished economy. Salt and Light Food Relief Program (SLFR) besides delivering food parcels to the less mobile, also distributes food every Thursday to groups mostly made up of migrants, people who were laid off during the COVID situation, international students, etc. Each week, at least 15 to 20 families or individuals have benefitted from the Thursday’s distribution. One such individual is a 75-year-old retired chef, Jenny.
Jenny used to work as a chef in a local prison, where she taught inmates how to cook. However, due to a knee injury, her work was put to a halt three years ago. She came to know about Thursday’s distribution from her daughter who came across a Facebook post by Sunrise day-care. In the five weeks, she has been with SLFR Program, she has in turned blessed many others in her community. The food she collects, she prepares and delivers them to the less mobile in the community she lives in. One such beneficiary is a gentleman who suffers from polio and is not able to cook, what more head out to get groceries. When asked if there were ways to help her, she said “It is times like this that we have to show kindness and care for others. I am doing it because I want to.”
If you are interested in volunteering or making donations, do contact Ezmond at (07) 37140315 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Help is always welcome!
By Jerome Ng
Originally celebrated in 1986, Refugee Week aims to raise awareness towards the positive contributions refugees have made to Australian society, as well as the many issues they face around the world. First organised in Sydney in 1986 by Austcare, Refugee Week has provided a platform to better create a culture of welcome between the various communities throughout the country.
The aims of Refugee Week are:
- Educate the public about the who, where and why the refugees came to Australia
- Help people understand what challenges refugees faced when coming to Australia
- Celebrate the refugees’ contribution to shaping today’s Australia
- Focus on improving better interpersonal cohesion between refugees and the various community
- Provide a platform for communities to do something positive not only for refugees in Australia, but all around the world
- Allow various service providers to use this time to reflect on what they have been providing them, and how they can better their service
Each year, Refugee Week has a theme to celebrate. In 2019, it was “A World of Stories”. This year, the theme was “The Year of Welcome”. With Covid-19 hitting the shores of Australia, this year’s celebration was held for the first time virtually. Partnering with SBS Food Online as part of this year’s ‘share a meal, share a story’ initiative, participants were able to stream and cook along with individuals and families from refugee backgrounds, as they learn of the story behind the dishes.
This year’s Refugee Week took place from June 14 to June 20. If you missed it and would like to know more about this event. Do check out refugeeweek.org.au or wait next year.
By Jerome Ng
In late 2019, the Unidus Hands of Hope English Class (Advanced Level) ran a series of lessons on Australian English. It was taught by one of our volunteers, Ben Ley, and was very well received and thoroughly enjoyed by the students. When the teaching series ended, we asked the students for what they would like to learn next.
We received an overwhelming response from them – their main goal was to obtain paid employment in Australia. Being new migrants who did not have many connections, this was a huge challenge and many had begun to despair of ever finding a job. They had registered for the Australian English class in the hope that they could better understand the locals and eventually find jobs.
In 2020, we started a Jobseekers class with up to eight students at a time. Classes were run in Unidus at the same time as the other English classes on 2nd and 4th Monday nights. We covered topics related to looking for jobs, such as cover letters and resumes. We also helped correct their grammar, spelling and content. In addition, we invited speakers from various fields to share their experiences. To date, we have invited speakers from the aged care and accounting sectors. After the speakers had completed delivering talks, students would ask the speakers questions relating to the sector being discussed. This was very valuable to the students in deciding if they were interested to work in the sectors.
We also invited speakers from the Human Resources sector, namely recruiters, to explain the finer points of interviewing and being interviewed. This was very well received; we hope to have mock interviews and invite more speakers in the future.
Due to Covid-19 regulations, we had to stop meeting at Unidus from late March 2020. We set up a WhatsApp chat group for our students to stay in touch and continue providing support to them. We also ran a zoom session in May 2020 covering the topic of video interviewing. We hope to run more online sessions until we are able to physically meet again as a group.
We would like to invite recent migrants to Australia who want to enter the job market to join our Jobseekers class. We also seek volunteer speakers who are working in any field to give talks and field questions online or in person. To find out more information, please contact email@example.com.
By Maureen Yeow
Mental health is often associated with mental health conditions – such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc. It is often misunderstood and misinterpreted by many. According to the World Health Organization, mental health is “a state of well-being in which each individual realises his or her potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” Hence, mental health is more about how well a person is, rather than how problematic a person is.
Here are two facts about mental health:
- Around 1 in 5 of the world’s children and adolescents have a mental disorder.
- Almost 800,000 people die by suicide every year; 1 person dies from suicide every 40 seconds.
With Covid-19 hitting the shores of Australia, and many families and individuals in isolation, a simple “How are you doing?” goes a long way. We might be isolated from our usual community, but that does not mean our hearts stops caring. With technology and intentional effort, hope and love can still be shared and spread. You can cook and deliver to a friend or family, play games together online, video-call one another, or even volunteer at your local community centre (Hands of Hope). Good mental health starts from us, and continues when we care less about ourselves, and more about others. Let’s turn ‘I’m alone’ into ‘We’re in this together’.
By Jerome Ng