Episode Description

Dr. Chris Bhadra speaks with Monia Choudhary about their experiences of migrant women navigating employment opportunities.

Monia shares tips for women adapting to work in a new country, including the importance of accessing support and networks.


This transcript is automatically generated and may contain errors.

Voiceover: [00:00:05] Welcome to 3ZZZ’s Stories of Community resilience.

Dr. Chris Bhadra: [00:00:19] Hello, and a very good afternoon to everyone. Those of you who are listening to three triple stories of community resilience, I am Chris Malika Bhadra and I welcome all of you again to another interesting conversation today or tonight, depending on wherever you’re listening to us from. This afternoon I will be talking about migrant women and various employment opportunities, what obstacles they face while they’re seeking employment in a wide country or a Western world. And I’m so very honored to be joined by a very special guest tonight. Today. But before I formally introduce her to all of you, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we are meeting today, the people of the Kulin Nation. I would also like to present my respect to the elders past, present and emerging.

On that note, I’m joined by Monia Chaudhry. Monia is a qualified risk management and insurance professional with a bachelor’s degree in law and Commerce and with a master’s degree in business administration. Mona has lived in Melbourne for 16 years and works in the public sector. She’s also a community leadership graduate of Leadership Victoria in dedication to her father, who unfortunately passed away as an organ donor. Mona has been volunteering with Donate Life Victoria to raise awareness about organ donation within migrant and faith based communities. On that note. Afternoon, Monia. How are you doing?

Monia Choudhary: [00:01:42] I’m good, Chris. Thank you for having me here. And I would also like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land where we both are and, you know, dialling from and also throughout this state. And I pay my respects to elders past and present and to ongoing living culture of Aboriginal people. Thank you.

Dr. Chris Bhadra: [00:02:02] It’s such a pleasure. Finally, we get to have this conversation. So, Monia, since both of us are migrant women, right, um, it’s only relevant that we’re having this conversation. But first things first. What are some of the common issues migrant women face while looking out for employment in a Western country? On a Western world?

Monia Choudhary: [00:02:22] Thank you, Chris. You know this topic about migrant women challenges, this is an interesting one because on one platform, it’s actually what challenges we face as migrant irrespective of the gender. Like, you know, um, the number of challenges which more as a systematic issues like, you know, first being that when you move to the country your qualifications, your experience even though you know you get them evaluated, you get them assessed. And yes, a doctor would be regarded as a doctor subject to completion of a number of requirements and obviously for good reason. The same with law degree, the same with, you know, other professions. However, the experience is actually like you need to kind of start from scratch. And then the other challenge is not on systematic level, but also on more on personal level. And we all come with different experiences, different value sets. Um, and that’s where, you know, it’s kind of one after another, whether it’s the language barrier or whether it’s the accent or whether it’s actually absence of your local network, you know, who can guide you. And when we get to the women aspect of us, it’s kind of a double sword like and depending on where you’re migrating from, that plays a key role. So in my case, Chris, I actually moved to Dubai before moving to Australia, So I was there for six years and that was an eye opening experience in itself. Going from India to Dubai was not in the proper city of Dubai. Um, it’s, you know, another country, Oman. And I was there for six years. And the cultural difference. Yeah. And again, not only the cultural difference, you know, between two countries, but also about different treatment to basically where you have migrated from.

Monia Choudhary: [00:04:26] So that also played a key role. And when I moved to Australia, like, you know, coming to a Western world, first of all, as I said, your experience is kind of, you know, if you came with a management experience of ten, 15 years, you kind of again looking for a more as a, you know, entry point rather than going straightaway, going into a leadership role. I think the biggest challenge for me and for most of the women whom I have talked in the last 16 years, common one is that you lose your own, identity because you’re trying to fit in into this culture, into this new place. And it takes a lot of resilience, a lot of reflection to get to that. ‘No, I am capable of this. I am you know, I have that potential.’ So in terms of, I would say the biggest thing, what women migrant women needs to work on belief in themselves. Um, you know that yes, they are able to do it. Cultural differences. And sometimes it’s actually the language when we talk about languages. Language English is not the first language for most of the migrant women, and it’s the slang. It’s not only the English language, it’s actually the slang which kind of sometime hits you badly that, you know, you go for an interview and you do not understand what the person is actually asking for. But, you know, again, it actually lowers your own confidence and that’s where it’s time to kind of, you know, hold your own personality that it’s okay.

Monia Choudhary: [00:06:19] We are trying to fit in into this new way of life, new country. So, yeah, I would say that, you know, it’s actually the fight with your own self that’s the biggest challenge for any of the women. Sometimes some of the roles also require maybe driving capability, like, you know. Yeah. And that’s where, again, maybe the migrant women might not have that experience or, you know, like if you’re a couple and then maybe the male partner has actually gone for the driving license or, you know, there’s a lot of expense when you move and, you know, you do not get into that priority that I’ll apply for the license. So that might also be a challenge that you might not be competing with other where you do not have the prerequisite. And the local network. I think most of the jobs, as much as we say, there are a number of platforms where you can look for the job, whether it’s SEEK.com, LinkedIn, you cannot get to those jobs unless you know what the job is about, what the organization. It’s that guidance and it takes a while to get a hang of that, actually. What do you need to prepare for the interview? How do you how do you need to write an application, especially in public sector? Chris You would have seen that there’s a, you know, key selection criteria. And if you do not address that criteria, you might not even be called for an interview. Yeah. So I would say that, you know, there are challenges and that’s where the support system actually plays a key role. 

Dr. Chris Bhadra: [00:08:07] For the next question that I wanted to ask you, which was about obviously having a language barrier. So if we do address that, there’s a language barrier, because for many of us, English is not the first language. If I have that barrier within me, what help can be provided to anyone who’s facing that issue with spoken English?

Monia Choudhary: [00:08:32] Another key part of us moving to another country that we need to be actually ready. We need to be open to get that help. So from government perspective, um, you know, there are a number of organization, not for profit organizations, which actually helps, especially the local community centers or neighborhood houses where you can actually go and seek help for English conversation classes and which might not even, you know, cost you anything. I think the biggest help anyone can do in terms of be open and have that confidence to win over the fight within yourself. You cannot learn a language, especially an adult. It’s always more challenging. It’s you know, it’s kind of when it is a necessity because whether you want to work or not. But if you’re raising a family, if you want to go for the grocery shopping, if you want to go for, you know, um, any day to day English is part of this society. So you need to be open and you need to and you can only, you know, get that fluency on the language only by practicing.

Monia Choudhary: [00:09:52] So the biggest help anyone can do in terms of the language proficiency is practice, whether it’s practicing with your own kids, if you have family members and sometimes it’s it can be embarrassing that when you’re especially learning from your younger ones or, you know, learning is not an easy task. So it’s practicing, it’s watching movies or whatever you do, or going to the local community center for those conversations as part of day to day. I would also say, especially if you’re thinking of going into the job, into the employment sector, there are a number of organizations will also provide help with how to write an application, how to prepare for an interview. Um, I’m also on the board of Indian Care as the Secretary for last five years and as an as an welfare based organization. We also help with international students. Um, and also in terms of we can connect, you know, um, with relevant organization where you can get help. So, yes, the biggest help one can do is to just be ready to get that proficiency in the language?

Dr. Chris Bhadra: [00:11:17] This is about the professional front, right? Your language. Looking at the key selection criteria, employment, opportunity. But when it comes to your domestic side of things. Right. Migrant women or think in general, a woman has to bridge the gap between household chores and official responsibilities because no matter how much we kind of talk about equality, a lot of the onus remains on the woman. In that situation Monia, as a society, what help or resources can we provide to these individuals so that bridging is smooth and comfortable and they don’t feel burnt out and their mental health is also not at stake. What can we do as a society?

Monia Choudhary: [00:12:02] Very good question, Chris. And we make the society, we break the society, isn’t it? So I think the first onus, as you said, is actually on the individual person. We can be our good best friends or we can be our worst enemy. One thing I would say, especially to the migrant women that listen to your own body. Don’t be a victim of circumstances. Don’t try to become a superwoman that you know, ‘I can do all I can handle the, you know, household chores. I can handle the office. I really want to be the best in the office and whatever it takes.’ So I think that’s one thing which we can do. The second thing I would say, it’s women to women relationship. And whether it’s actually sisterhood or whether you it you know, whether it’s your mum, mum in law or you know your friends make it normal. Do not actually pass comments when you see someone’s partner helping their wives, you know, in the household chores, that’s a normal thing. It’s not an extra. And you know, we know that back home it might not be a normal thing, but it is normal. And when you see that someone is actually not helping, someone is, you know, call it out, um, and become their support, be a helping hand to that women to actually realize that it’s okay to ask for help.

Monia Choudhary: [00:13:39] Third thing as a society, I think we can do. We should broaden our support system. And you you know, sometime we say as women that, oh, I don’t make that much money, but it actually costs me more to send my children to childcare. So it’s better that I’m actually at home. I think we need to get over this because it’s not only about the money, it’s more about your own mental health, more about getting that support from others rather than being in the home. And again, everyone’s circumstances are different, but it’s okay to ask for help. Don’t limit yourself only to your own community as well. Learn from others that how Whether you are seeking help from, your child’s school mate’s, mum or dad to pick them up one day rather than you know that, Oh, I can just only ask my family. So I think as a society we can be there for each other and get them moving.

Dr. Chris Bhadra: [00:14:51] Well, now, but before we kind of wrap up this question, I do also understand that we cannot just have these one off conversations. These things are certain issues that need to be had periodically within the society. But if I have to draw a line to this conversation per se before I let you go, what would be your message of hope and resilience to our listeners?

Monia Choudhary: [00:15:13] I think, Chris, I’m a strong believer of that power of affirmations. The biggest fight we have is actually, first with our own self. I would say that we should always remind ourselves that I am a powerful being and don’t try to fit it into what other people say what is normal. Just withdraw yourself from those opinion and listen to your own inner voice. And in terms of resilience. It’s more about bouncing back. We all like, irrespective of the ethnicity, background, race, we all have ups and downs in life. It’s always about bouncing back. So we where we all come from, high competition, limited resources we all have seen, I think we have got good resilience. But here the problems are different, but problems are there. And that’s where I’ve said my message is don’t get stuck to anything. If something bad happens, negative happens. It’s always about no time stays for long. Move on, good or bad, just move on. And that’s where we support to each other. And don’t only think about your own growth, it’s about growing your whole community.

Dr. Chris Bhadra: [00:16:41] Thank you. Monia. That was so inspiring. And in the middle of a Friday afternoon where you’re working these words have actually come as a relief and again, very, very inspiring. So to our listeners on Stories of Community resilience, this was Monia Chaudhary joining us in Melbourne. I hope if you’ve heard us for the first time, you had a lot of takeaway from her journey, her words and her message of hope, determination and resilience. And if you’ve heard us for a while, I really do hope that you like what we’ve produced on Stories of Community Resilience. And if you would like to share your story or would like to get interviewed, please let us know. Get in touch with us. On that note, thank you so much for joining us. Please stay safe and we’ll be in touch. Thank you.

Monia Choudhary: [00:17:24] Thank you, Chris. Thanks for having me here. And yes, have a good day.

Voiceover: [00:17:31] This has been a Story of Community Resilience by 3ZZZ.

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