The implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 marked a new chapter in global development and laid the foundations for addressing inequalities that hinder holistic progress. However, gender gaps pose a significant threat to achieving these goals. Project DREAM (Developing Resilience, Education, Aspiration, and Motivation) sought to explore women’s sense of aspiration, achievement, and lived experience in India, Syria, and the Philippines, as well as develop pilot interventions to address gender disparities. Semi-structured interviews with 69 young women from India, Syria, and the Philippines informed the development of three interventions, namely an aspiration and job skills workshop series in the Philippines, Motivational Interviewing training in Syria and the Philippines, and a social media presence and launch event worldwide. This paper presents the findings of this international project, identifying four key parallels underpinning women’s lived experience: poverty, incomplete education, tradition, and patriarchy. Pre-existing gender inequalities, aggravated by the widespread health, economic, and social disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, must be urgently addressed to ensure that no one is left behind on the road to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.


education, employability, Maslow, phenomenology, poverty, women

Author Bio(s)

Emma R. Sarcol worked in the Philippines for seven years after completing her Masters of Science in Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. As the Project Manager at the NGO partner in the Philippines, Glory Reborn, she coordinated all relevant project activities, including leading the “Your DREAM Journey” workshop series and undergoing extended training in Motivational Interviewing. Emma played an active role throughout the project life cycle, from conceptualisation and planning through implementation to monitoring and evaluation, culminating in leading the writing of the manuscript. Please direct correspondence to emmarietbergen@gmail.com.

Ines Coutinho, Assoc CIPD, was a full-time undergraduate student of Human Resource Management at Liverpool John Moores Univeristy. As the international research assistant, she was involved in the development of the social media campaign to increase awareness of the lived experiences of young women who participated in the project. Please direct correspondence to inescoutinho24@gmail.com.

Elle Maguire completed an undergraduate degree in Human Resource Management prior to completing a Postgraduate Diploma of Education. Elle is passionate about the right to Education and is currently teaching in a primary school in the Liverpool area whilst undertaking a master’s degree in Education Practice at Liverpool John Moores University. She contributed by supporting the launch of the Project DREAM by creating the Better World of Work website, a podcast channel, YouTube and Facebook pages. Please direct correspondence to elle.mag1@hotmail.com.

Helen C. Collins is a Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management. Her research interests focus on precarious work, and marginalised communities, in particular aspirations and employability among Roma in the UK. Most recently she has researched how individuals rebuild new boundaries after undergoing severe trauma such as war, through the lens of Syrian women internal migrants moving from war-torn parts of Syria to more peaceful areas. Please direct correspondence to h.collins@ljmu.ac.uk.

Dr Tricia Jolliffe is an experienced lecturer and research in the Human Resource Academic Department at Liverpool John Moores University. Her specialist research areas include Action Learning, Roma, Precarity, Profession, Labour Turnover, Spirituality, Machine Learning, and HRD. She is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She worked at Webster University, Geneva, Kingston, and Bournemouth University and has extensive HR consultancy experience, including prior employment with Siemens. Tricia developed the HR Professional Student Network in 2015, Liverpool Roma Employability Network (LREN) in 2017, and Roma Education Aspiration Project (REAP) in 2018. In 2021 Tricia commenced an international project in Syria, India and the Philippines, studying the education and aspiration of females aged 18-30. Please direct correspondence to p.a.jolliffe@ljmu.ac.uk.

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