Improving career opportunities and choice for women and girls

Tailored education and leadership skills development are helping women and girls overcome cultural, economic and social barriers.


UN Women, CSIRO and Conservation International, each in partnership with BHP Foundation, are offering women and girls greater access to formal education, tailored training in entrepreneurship, 21st century skills and leadership, and opportunities to re-enter the workforce.

While distinct and globally dispersed, each program delivered by these organizations has things in common: they are designed to overcome barriers to participation by being tailored and sensitive to location, culture, and individual circumstances and provide a variety of learning styles. In some cases, the programs also assist with social, emotional and well-being support.

Learn more from four inspiring women participating in these innovative programs:


Bernarda is a mother-of-two and an entrepreneur from Maipú, Santiago de Chile. Along with 99 other women from Huechuraba, Maipú and Peñalolén, she’s being certified in Digital Skills. 

They spent two months in virtual classes and workshops designed to strengthen their socio-emotional and personal leadership skills. Their training also included lessons on how to use shared spreadsheets and manage social media platforms. 

Digital Skills is an initiative promoted by ClaroVTR and UN Women's Second Chance Education Programme -Tu Oportunidad- in Chile. By providing tailored education of digital skills and literacy to women who are often their households’ breadwinners, the project promotes women's integration into the job market either as entrepreneurs or employees. To date, this joint initiative has reached over 1,000 women from underprivileged communities in Chile. 

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Penny is a single mother who joined Real Futures’ Return-to-Work program in Sydney, Australia. Having been out of work for a long time, Penny was looking for support to find a job in a community-related field. 

As part of the training and support plan tailored to her circumstances, she enrolled in a series of workshops and vocational courses, including a Life and Career Planning workshop, which facilitates participants explore their personal journeys and identify career and life goals. 

Penny also attended a CV and interview skills workshop, that helped her secure a part-time Family Support Worker position with the Sydney Region Aboriginal Corporation. 

In collaboration with UN Women, Real Futures delivers a culturally safe program exclusively for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women across New South Wales and in Carnarvon and Geraldton, Western Australia. 

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Lorena joined the Awajún School of Governance to learn about leadership and governance, community management and administration, and the rights of Indigenous peoples.

She is part of the first cohort of 54 young students from five Indigenous communities in Alto Mayo (San Martin region), Peru, graduated from the program last year. After attending the 18 months program, she now has the tools to play a more active role in the decision-making processes in her community Huascayacu.

The Awajún School of Governance project is supported by the Regional Awajún Indigenous Federation of Alto Mayo - FERIAAM and Conservation International, to train Indigenous leaders to revalue their cultural wealth, strengthen their Indigenous identity and connect with and protect their territory.

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Agnes fell in love with astronomy in Kenya going stargazing with her dad. She’s one of 25 students from around Australia selected to take their interest in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) further. 

Agnes recently got to look through a telescope for the first time ever at a STEM Together Future Shapers camp, run by CSIRO. Agnes also met like-minded kids, explored science research and careers, and heard from experts in the field.

The Future Shapers camps are part of the CSIRO STEM Together program, a project designed to encourage under-represented students into the STEM talent pipeline by building their confidence, capability in 21st century skills, and connection with STEM.

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BHP Foundation is supporting projects taking action in Chile, Australia and around the world to improve access to education and quality employment opportunities for marginalized groups, including women. Read more about our programs.

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A second chance for Afghan women in Chile

Zahra Karimi fled Afghanistan after the Taliban took power in 2021 and arrived in Santiago de Chile as a refugee. Zahra participated in the UN Women’s Second Chance Education (SCE) Programme, an innitiative that helped her in the process of social and economic inclusion in Chile.

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