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UN Women Partnership

International Women's Day 2023 Theme

‘Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future’

As a partner of United Nations Women, SisterWorks consistently uses the UN annual theme* in our celebration and advocacy for International Women’s Day.  We believe it is a valuable reminder to all to continue moving towards a gender-equal future. 

SisterWorks vision is an Australia in which all migrant, refugee and asylum-seeker women (our Sisters) are economically empowered.

Our mission is to enable these vulnerable women to have the opportunity to be confident, independent and learn new social and vocational skills to improve their economic outlook.

A gender equal future is a driving force behind our good work. Since our inception, SisterWorks has created innovative and vital vocational training programs and continues to redefine how Australian businesses should consider integrating migrants and refugees into the workforce. 

*Australia’s first International Women’s Day was held in 1928 in Sydney, 15 years after the first celebration was held in Europe. SisterWorks believes that it is important to support the UN theme and not that of the corporate International Women’s Day website (which often appears first in searches).  SisterWorks encourages all our partners to use the UN annual theme and get their source information and resources for building an IWD 2023 strategy from the official UN Women Australia website. 

SisterWorks Partnership with UN Women

UN Women’s Second Chance Education (SCE) and Vocational Learning Program, which is proudly supported by the BHP Foundation, aims to help women from indigenous, refugee,  displaced, and low-income backgrounds with meaningful learning and employment pathways through formal education, vocational education and entrepreneurship training.

In its first phase, this program is being piloted in Cameroon, Jordan, India, Mexico, Chile and Australia. One of SisterWorks’ fundamental goals is to provide women with practical education.

Together with UN Women, we are working towards expanding the reach of the SisterWorks Model, with the aim to assist approximately 2000 migrant women by June 2021. Together with UN Women, we will do this through four full-time Empowerment Hubs and develop an online platform to deliver training content to Sisters who are unable to access Empowerment Hubs in person.


“SisterWorks puts women entrepreneurs at the centre of our model where work empowers women. Over the past 6 years we have supported hundreds of women to re-imagine their future by giving them the right tools; be that business skills, improved English language skills, and the confidence and emotional and social well-being to become contributors to their families, their communities and the Australian economy.”

Luz Restrepo, Founder of SisterWorks.

Supported by
UN Women Second Chance Education (SCE) and Vocational Learning Program

Objectives of the Program

The SCE Program aims to break current trends and provide a comprehensive solution targeting marginalised women and young women who missed out on education and are at risk of being left behind. It offers women and young women, their families, local communities, and societies the benefits of access to educational services which are tailored not only to their needs as learners, but also to their future as earners.

The Program intends to leverage a host of technologies to provide women and young women with both physical and virtual learning environments, access to quality learning materials and links with meaningful and diversified employment opportunities, while addressing in a holistic manner the factors that caused them to fail to enrol or dropout.


The Program is being piloted in the following typology of countries over three years:

1) Low and middle-income countries with high poverty pockets, Indigenous groups, among other groups- Chile, India and Mexico;

2) In conflict, displacement and crisis settings- Jordan and Cameroon;

3) In a developed context, but with marginalised Indigenous and refugee women experiencing high rates of poverty and violence- Australia.

The SCE Program is being piloted with a view for scalability, based on the premise that investing in education equity offers some of the best short, medium and long-term returns on investment in people.


Expected Outcomes of the Program

  • The Program will directly benefit nearly 50,000 women and young women during the initial three-year period of 2018-2021.
  • The Program will reach female refugees, internally displaced persons, indigenous populations and host communities and will help marginalised women and young women access and benefit from high quality educational content and employment opportunities.


Partnership between BHP Foundation and UN Women

  • UN senior leadership has highlighted that the private sector is well-positioned to bring new and innovative solutions to achieving the SDGs by 2030 through making valuable contributions and lasting benefits to communities around the world. A transformative program, such as the SCE, would not be feasible without partnerships. It is through partnerships, that we will be well positioned to bring about transformative change and bring this innovative program to scale. 
  • With the BHP Foundation’s history in supporting effective and innovative education programs the Foundation is a valued partner for UN Women and the SCE Program. The BHP Foundation and UN Women share the belief that quality education is the pathway through which women and young women can build the skills and knowledge to seize the opportunities to improve their lives and enhance their communities.
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