She Matters and Codam team up to help refugee women forge a brighter future

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Her Turn: It’s time to make refugee women’s education a priority

A new report from UNHCR highlights a gap in the education of refugee women. According to Filippo Grandi’s comment on the Report, these findings are a global wake-up call. Committed to friendly disruption and gender equality, we embrace this wake-up-call. She Matters is honoured to join this initiative in collaboration with Codam. This unorthodox programming school will open its doors at the Marineterrein after locations like Paris and Silicon Valley. What’s more, it is set to be the next hotspot for everyone – men and women.

It started like this…

Codam College was founded by Corinne Vigreux. Ms Vigreux is known as a co-founder of TomTom, but what is behind it? A story that speaks to She Matters’ values and hope.

Corinne Vigreux came from afar, from a working-class neighbourhood of Lyon’s suburbs. Luckily, now she can say, ‘I was fortunate that my parents understood early on that education is the key to a life where you can do what you like.’ Today, Ms Vigreux can focus on things that are close to her heart, such as coaching young entrepreneurs and setting up a new programming school. The latter is an ambitious project. On the Marineterrein in Amsterdam, near TomTom HQ, a school for six hundred young people will be opened in a few months. In three years’ time, they will be taught the tricks of coding. Hopefully afterwards they’ll work at tech companies. The school welcomes everyone, regardless of previous education. Experience with coding is also not necessary. Perseverance and dedication, that’s what it is about. With this in mind, Ms Vigreux hopes to draw students with a diverse background. Yes, we go there together! Our programmes will merge to empower young women who have a refugee or forced migration background.

According to UNHCR, for millions of women among the world’s ever-growing refugee population, education remains an aspiration, not a reality. Codam and She Matters are turning the aspiration into reality, at least to some extent. Of course, there’s a long way to go, but it’s a fair start.

At the core of She Matters’ activities is the Lotus Flower Programme. We run Lotus Flower independently on a regular basis. At the moment, we’re accepting applications for the next round of the Programme. Organisations and female newcomers are welcome to join us. More info and sign-up here: Lotus Flower is also a blueprint for programmes tailored to the individual needs of our corporate partners.

About Lotus Flower

A psycho-social gender-specific support stands behind our solutions. These SDGs friendly solutions and approach are encapsulated in our Lotus Flower Programme. Through this programme, we empower female newcomers with the knowledge, skills, network and emotional support to successfully integrate into the labour market.


For 12 weeks, a group of 8-10 trainees attend their traineeships (part-time). In addition, they attend a weekly workshop at our facility.

The weekly workshop aims at:

  • improving trainees’ hard and soft skills, ICT skills, etc.
  • answering financial management queries
  • explaining cultural norms in the workplace
  • giving psycho-social support

We also incorporate a workshop on gender equality where both the trainee and her partner are invited to attend.


Each participant is matched with a female mentor. The mentor can provide both emotional and practical support. This may include answering questions about:

  • cultural norms in the workplace
  • issues surrounding child care
  • any problems a mentee experiences in the workplace or otherwise


For employers, our specialised matchmaking service helps them meet with qualified candidates to fill their vacancies. We also provide educational workshops focused on the labour laws associated with hiring newcomers. In addition, we manage the administrative paperwork for the hiring process.

Clearly, Lotus Flower will grow into something new. Obviously, some may say that three years’ time it’s a bit long. Our reply? Don’t rush things that need time to grow. We are getting closer. It’s time for something new and shiny… ‘Our future’s so bright, we gotta wear shades.’ – Christina Moreno, She Matters founder & CEO …And the future starts NOW. Her Turn. #SheMatters

Nadia KramarenkoShe Matters and Codam team up to help refugee women forge a brighter future

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