International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated globally every year on 8th March to mark the achievements of women throughout history and their contributions to society. Throughout history, many women’s stories have been left untold and their contributions unacknowledged. IWD helps us create awareness of these inspirational women and their impact on every part of society.
If you are reading this blog, you may already know who Victoria Miloschewsky is. If not you’re about to find out. I read a quote recently by poet and feminist Ntozake Shange “Where there is a woman, there is magic”. Upon reading this one person sprang to mind and this person is none other than Victoria (Vic) Miloschewsky.
Vic is the Founder and CEO of the charity PeopleStories. PeopleStories aims to transform lives through education, one story at a time. Its mission is to provide greater access to education to the communities in need in Cambodia. PeopleStories are now actively working with more than eight schools in rural Cambodia looking after some 3,000 students and teachers. Through providing greater access to education Vic and her team are creating opportunities for young children and changing the course of their lives.
Vic knows all too well just how life-changing access to education can be. Born and raised in Hong Kong to a working-class family Vic watched two of her sisters drop out of school at an early age as they had to support their family. Vic was lucky enough to receive a scholarship and completed her tertiary education in Melbourne, Australia. By being given this opportunity Vic was able to get a solid education and therefore have a long and successful career in HR.
I was first introduced to Vic when the company I work for Concirrus were raising money for her charity through an exercise challenge. I was lucky enough to get to know Vic, her team, and learn about all the hard work that goes into running a nonprofit organization. Vic is an extremely open individual and she spoke candidly about some of the challenges she had overcome in her life.
Speaking to Vic recently I asked her what her thoughts were on this year’s theme of IWD #BreakTheBias. “Like most people I have experienced bias in different situations whether that be in my personal life or work life. One experience that stands out however is being a young Asian woman applying for jobs in Australia. I noticed when I would apply for jobs I would often not hear back and rarely would I get an opportunity for an interview. As soon as I got married and my maiden name changed, I was suddenly inundated with responses and interviews. This subtle change to my name made a big impact on the sort of opportunities I was getting. This experience of bias is something that is still unfortunately all too common.” , Vic reflected her deep experiences.
Throughout her career, Vic has always been passionate about using her voice and creating inclusion where possible. This is why this year’s IWD theme #BreakTheBias resonates with her. In Cambodia, there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve gender equality. “Women and girls aged 15+ spend 12.5% of their time on unpaid care and domestic work, compared to 1.3% spent by men.”
One initiative that Vic is helping make real and concrete changes to the women of Cambodia is the Women Empowerment Project. In one of the local villages, women get together to design and produce upcycle bags.
“As a start, we went to local markets and construction sites to collect canvas wastes such as rice or cement bags, later we designed and repurposed the seemingly useless materials into fashionable bags. It sounds like a small thing to do but the boost in confidence, the appreciation and the ability to generate income for the family is incredible.”, Vic spoke whole heartedly and continued.
“I don’t see the importance of personal recognition all I want to do is bring wider awareness to PeopleStories. The more people who know about me will hear about the great work we are doing and therefore we can support more children in Cambodia.”
On this IWD I wanted to recognize Vic and the work she does which empowers and inspires everyone she meets. Even though Vic herself has experienced bias and struggles she has not let this define her and stop her from chasing her dreams. Going back to the previous quote from Ntozake Shange “Where there is a woman, there is magic” if we all had some of Vic’s magic then the world would be a much better place. I am grateful to Vic for her sharing some of her magic with me.
Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias. Share with us your #BreakTheBias stories by commenting below.
Donate now to PeopleStories and see how you can help.
Story written by: volunteer Hanah Freeman