Suzie’s partner of eighteen years was diagnosed with a terminal illness when their daughter was just one. After caring for her partner for five years, Suzie found herself over forty, a single parent with a young child starting over. Despite her extensive training and experience in horticulture, Suzie was unable to find a secure job. Self-employment seemed to be the best option, and she was fortunate to receive a small grant from the ACT Women’s Return to Work Grants Program to set up her own business. Through this program Suzie was directed to Global Sisters.
“Middle age hasn’t always been kind to me,” says Suzie. “I never thought that society would deem a middle-aged woman with 50 years of knowledge and experience as unemployable. Yet, suddenly, there I was.”
Sometimes working in an industry that correlates to your passion proves to be difficult. My passion is working within nature and assisting people to take pride in their suburban and surrounding gardens. However there still exists a prominent misogynistic and discriminatory atmosphere within the trades, which has led to not only a lower engagement ~ with only 28% of the available employment opportunities within the industry being held by women ~ and negative ramifications for those ‘lucky’ enough to secure a position ; such as workplace bullying. Over the course of thirteen years, I have consistently struggled with securing a full time, permanent work. Working from contract to contract, pay-check to pay-check the thought of having no superannuation, a lack of reliable income and facing potential homelessness I became acutely concerned with meeting the physiological requirements for ‘life’ as derived from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Whilst it had been many years since I had undertaken any form of study, I decidedly commenced a business management course, attaining my certificate four. After numerous job applications and interviews I still remained unemployed. My self esteem suffering extensively as I continuously got rejected. Disgruntled but not defeated I was determined to create a better life for myself. As we grow older, women are encouraged to take on a rather mundane life, and at fifty-five I am still refusing, pursuing an occupation that satisfies my fervour;
“I didn’t wait until somebody gave me a job… I went and created a job for myself.” ~ A. Fellig (A.K.A Weegee, Freelance Photographer)
A crucial factor in my success has been Global Sisters. Global Sisters is a not-for-profit organisation that assists women in ‘breaking-away’ from the mainstream and introducing opportunities for self-employment. Detached from the overruling masculine power, the association is a safe haven ; unifying women who are facing adversity. An overwhelming sense of community has been created, something that is not often held in high ‘esteem’, encouraging the pursuits of individuality, education and support ~ both emotionally and practically.
The program has helped to integrate the complexities of running a business into the ‘requirements’ of a twenty-first century society. Over the past decade, since I ran my last business, there has been a rapid increase in worldly interconnectedness. Comprehensive communication systems have been developed and our exposure to products and services has intensified in association with technology and social media. The Global Sisters team have helped to equip me with the new expertise to publicise my personal business ~ Tidy Canberra Gardens ~ and gain traction and cliental.
Unfortunately, the ‘epidemic’ of middle-aged women struggling to find viable employment is tremendously wide-spread, yet hardly ever discussed. It doesn’t take too much to make a positive change within your life, and to be a spokesperson for those without a ‘voice’. The difficult stage is over for me now ~ at least for a while. I can only improve, and so can you.
Global Sisters is all about making business possible for women who face barriers to mainstream employment due to their circumstances … women who are seeking financial independence. Sister School is a real world business education program that aims to equip women with the practical knowledge, skills and support needed to start a business or grow an early stage business. Click Here to find out more