She spent her 20s travelling the world on David Bowie’s super yacht and her 30s building a multimillion-dollar Boost Juice empire. In fact, it is hard to think of a savvier woman than Janine Allis.

So it’s a surprise to hear her talk of the shame she felt in knowing so little about the world’s refugee crisis.

“We’re in such a bubble here in Australia that sometimes we don’t realise our comfortable situation is unique rather than the norm,” she says.

“A friend of mine started talking to me about it. Once I started paying attention, I felt confused and guilty that I didn’t know more about what was going on.”

The statistics on refugees are confronting. Research released by UNHCR last month revealed that nearly 80 million people — one percent of the world’s population — are now displaced. Eighty per cent of refugees are women and children.

As Australia for UNHCR’s newest ambassador, Allis is the leading voice for the Leading Women Fund, which is aimed at engaging female professionals and change-makers to support refugee women and girls.

“We’re looking for women with an entrepreneurial spirit to join us, and contribute their skills and knowledge to drive change,” she says, adding that she has always believed in the power of women to make a difference. “Women work so well collaboratively. From the early days of Boost, we were a bunch of women who were problem-solvers, quite humble, and keen to learn along the way.”

The first women supported by the Fund will be Syrian refugees in Jordan who have found themselves the head of their households, either as widows or with partners injured in the war.

Only four per cent of refugee work permits are given to women, which means they have few ways to earn money to pay for household expenses such as rent and food.

“By helping them meet their immediate needs, we can give these female refugees dignity and choice,” says Allis. “Many are educated women, who held professional jobs before the war, and they’re resilient. We want to remove barriers to help them build better lives for themselves and their families.”

In October, the Fund will launch a world-first app — called Connecting Worlds — which will enable Australian women contributing to the fund to text with female refugees in Jordan. Allis has been trialling it. “I’ve been talking to a single woman with four kids and she’s been telling me about her life in Jordan. It’s a privilege to be able to talk as equals and make that connection.

“I’m thrilled to be involved with such a dynamic initiative. It’s life-changing.”

Join the Leading Women Fund today

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