Women's Leadership Initiative (WLI)

Location: Australasia; Australia

The Women’s Leadership Initiative is a five-year, $5.4 million initiative of the Australian aid program that aims to promote women’s leadership and build a future generation of elite women leaders in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific region.

Women in the Pacific continue to be under-represented in leadership positions. Greater gender equality, especially in leadership and decision-making, contributes to reducing poverty, promoting economic growth and enhancing the wellbeing of women, girls and their families.

The Women’s Leadership Initiative engages with women and men studying in Australia on Australia Awards Scholarships. The program offers skills development, mentoring and other support to build participants’ confidence and capability to exercise leadership. It forges links between emerging women leaders from the Pacific and influential women in Australia, forging business, community and political associations to build knowledge and understanding.

The Women’s Leadership Initiative is delivered across three ‘tiers,' allowing scholars to apply to engage at a level that suits their individual interest and availability.

  • Tier 1 Learning and networking events: is open to all current male and female scholars. Four live events are held around Australia each year, supplemented by webinars and other live / online activities.
  • Tier 2 Leadership and mentoring program: is offered to up to 35 select women scholars each year. Participants undertake leadership intensives and projects and are matched with an Australian woman mentor.
  • Tier 3 workplace internships: are offered to 5–10 Tier 2 participants each year.

Recent program activities include:

  • The Launch of the Women’s Leadership Initiative by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at Parliament House on 8 February 2018.
  • Concurrent with the launch, the first Tier 2 Leadership and Mentoring program pilot, with a cohort of some 14 scholars, commenced their leadership journey with a five-day residential course.
  • Other activities will be implemented under all three Tiers from March 2018 onwards.
Cardno’s role and approach:

As the managing contractor, Cardno is developing a program of activities informed by our experience with approaches to women’s developmental leadership.
We provide:
  • Personnel (technical and operational);
  • Management services;
  • A program of activities to develop leadership skills and capabilities; and
  • A mentoring program to link influential women in Australia and the Pacific.

 Other information:

Photo credit: DFAT / Emily Hanna