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The Women’s Leadership Initiative was recently launched by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop at Parliament House in Canberra. The Department of Pacific Affairs’ (DPA) excellence in research on women’s leadership and empowerment has been recognised through its successful partnership with Cardno Emerging Markets to deliver aspects of the new DFAT-funded initiative. The Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) is a five-year, $5.4 million Australian Government initiative that aims to promote women’s leadership and build a future generation of elite women leaders in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific region. It will engage with women and men studying in Australia on Australia Awards scholarships and offer a suite of skills development, mentoring and other resources to build participants’ confidence and capability to exercise developmental leadership. It also aspires to create links between emerging women leaders and influential women in Australia and the Pacific, and help participants build coalitions and networks to support and sustain their leadership efforts once they return home.
One of DPA’s key contributions to WLI is to provide expertise on the region and the leadership challenges with which participants will engage upon their return home from Australia. The department’s expertise on the region and its policy engagement will also be leveraged through a mentoring program. Researchers will provide advice and mentoring to participants to help them refine a nominated study topic, understand its current status, its potential for change and possible first steps in taking action. The strong partnerships with these future Pacific island leaders, senior Australian government officers and ANU staff provides a potential platform for future collaboration and enhanced mutual understanding.