Leading Women Fund member Zhanna Miron is passionate about supporting refugee women.
For Zhanna Miron, Co-Founder and CFO of private credit fund manager Msquared Capital, the Leading Women Fund's (LWF) focus on economic independence is a game-changer.
The LWF is a network of Australian women who are passionate about empowering female refugees. Through the LWF, Australian donors can provide refugee women with cash assistance, empowering them to buy their basic needs including rent, groceries and medicine.
LWF donors can also develop a friendship with refugee women through the Connecting Worlds app, a ground-breaking initiative giving Australian women and refugees insight into each other's lives.
You came to Australia from Russia as a student in 2000. Can you tell us about that experience?
It was daunting as a 17-year-old coming to a new country as a student, having no family or acquaintances in Australia. I was very fortunate in coming into a very welcoming homestay and soon created a social network within the university community while studying accounting. I fell in love with Australia’s beauty, culture and people. We often take for granted how lucky we are to live in this amazing country with so much opportunity, where you can truly live your life to its full potential.
I can’t even begin to understand what it must be like to arrive as a refugee. I had the means to live here, the ability to get an education and the opportunity to find work. Refugees have a very different experience – their circumstances are so much harder.
When did you first hear about the LWF and why did you want to donate?
I was introduced to Australia for UNHCR by [former Board Chair] Michael Dwyer. After meeting and working with him, our company sponsored tables at some of the charity’s refugee events. When I heard about the LWF, I thought it was a fantastic idea and was keen to sign up.
Cash assistance gives refugee women financial freedom and self-determination, which is something we in Australia often take for granted. We also don’t realise some of the barriers to independence faced by refugee women, such as the intricacies in the Jordanian system that restrict their opportunities to work. This was something I learned about during my text conversations with my Connecting Worlds match.
What was your experience of the Connecting Worlds app?
It was very humbling and such a rewarding experience. I was matched with a refugee woman who is caring for her brothers and sisters. She works in agriculture during the summer months, but there’s no work in winter which is why cash assistance from UNHCR makes such a big difference. She told me, “At least then I can put food on the table for the family.”
I was conscious of finding topics to talk about that weren’t too sensitive or upsetting for her, while at the same time giving her the space to express her feelings if she wanted to. It was an incredible experience and it made me think of all the privileges we have, which refugee women have to fight for every single day.
You have a busy job and a family – what do you do when you have spare time?
My spare time usually starts at 5am each day! I practise yoga or I’ll do a workout with a friend, and then I try to jump in the ocean for a quick swim, year-round. I love the feeling when you jump in and your whole body gets cold, your head is cold and all the stress just… goes. It’s almost a cleansing experience. That said, in winter I don’t stay in long!
Find out more about the Leading Women Fund here.
Craftivists Stephanie Dunlap and Tal Fitzpatrick reached out to artists around the world to raise funds for Australia for UNHCR
The majority of funds raised by Australia for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.