14 January 2021
‘SisterWorks had taught me about a lot of stuff, but the most important is that we’re capable, we’re strong and we can do anything. All we need is opportunity.’
That’s Claudia Freitas. Since July 2018, she’s been a member of SisterWorks, a not-for-profit social enterprise in Melbourne, Australia.
SisterWorks is part of a global program called Second Chance Education and Vocational Learning, a partnership between UN Women and BHP Foundation which is helping marginalised women through pathways to training which generate employment, entrepreneurship and leadership opportunities.
In addition to Australia, the three-year pilot project is being implemented in Mexico, Jordan, India, Chile and Cameroon and provides physical and virtual learning environments, access to quality learning materials and links with meaningful and diversified employment and entrepreneurship opportunities that are tailored to the women’s individual needs as learners and their future as earners.
SisterWorks supports women to re-imagine their futures, giving them the right tools and business skills to become valued contributors to their families, communities and the Australian economy. Partnering with UN Women is enabling Sisterworks to increase their efforts and ultimately impact the lives of thousands of women in Australia.
For Claudia, who arrived from Brazil in 2015, that’s meant learning English and developing new entrepreneurial skills to improve her confidence and job prospects.
She first heard about SisterWorks from a Brazilian classmate in her English class.
‘I went along and for the first time in Australia, I felt like an equal again.’
After enrolling in a food handling course and receiving her certificate, Claudia was offered a job cooking in the SisterWorks production lab.
‘When I saw my first pay, I was so happy because I felt valued,’ says Claudia.
She’s since learned to sew, improved her English and gained confidence through SisterWorks’ sales training and public speaking program.
Now, Claudia is an inspirational speaker and mentor for other Sisters.
‘My English is not perfect, but it doesn’t matter because each day I grow more confident,’ she says.
Her next step is a move to Perth in January but this time she’s not afraid.
‘I know how to sell, how to check quality and how to talk. And while I’ll miss all my Sisters, I’m happy because I know I have the skills to start again.’
You can learn more about UN Women’s Second Chance Education and Vocational Learning Program here.