UN International Women's Day 2023

'Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future'

Reflecting on the last three years, we can truly appreciate how COVID has transformed our interaction with digital technology and opened so many opportunities for everyone, in particular women, who often bear the burden of caring responsibilities, those with a disability or women seeking a work/life balance living out of the city. For instance, new platforms of engagement, which have legitimised working from home, have made it possible to apply for higher paying jobs in Sydney, while still living in Wollongong or Campbelltown.

This year, I am delighted to celebrate International Women's Day and reflect on the United Nations theme 'Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future'. The theme highlights the need for innovation, inclusive technologies, and accessible education to help combat discrimination and the marginalisation of women globally. The economic and values case for empowering women is compelling, with research showing gender-diverse organisations perform better across a range of indicators – market value, innovation, productivity, talent acquisition and retention, culture and reputation.

CatholicCare’s ParentsNext program is an example of how the empowerment of women through access to education and technology facilitates opportunities for personal growth and employment. The participants of ParentsNext are women (and some men) of all ages on parenting payments, with children under 6 years. In many cases, these women struggle with a variety of issues, like being time poor, putting the needs of others before their own, lacking confidence, living off welfare payments, not having access to technology or training, financial issues, and feeling disconnected from their own life goals and overwhelmed in trying to navigate a pathway back into employment.

ParentsNext offers each participant a CatholicCare staff member as their one-on-one ‘coach’ and provides funding to pay for training and other necessary costs to help achieve their goals and dreams. The program is about personal, positive empowerment to help women reclaim their confidence, technology skills, financial independence and their employment opportunities, which reaps rewards for them and their children.

Jayde started the ParentsNext program in 2021. She has two children aged 3 and 10 years. Her study and pathway back to employment was rocky due to COVID lockdowns, a lack of support around her and her feelings of insecurity. She was eligible for the ParentsNext Program and placed with case worker Krystal. Krystal helped Jayde source the technology she needed and the training to create a new pathway. She worked with her to update her resume, prepare for interviews, and plan a pathway to her goals. Jayde says this support helped her get her dream job and she's been loving working for the last few months. Best of all, she feels her confidence has grown in every area of her life, and with a good income, she feels more stable happy and relaxed.

Let’s use International Women’s Day to start highlight the need for technology and innovation to help create gender equality in our community.