The empowerment of women and girls is an integral part of Australia’s aid program and is a central objective of the ‘Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy’. In the same manner, Australia Awards in Africa is committed to promoting gender equality- enabling women to have a say in decisions that profoundly affect their lives and ultimately to enjoy the benefits that accrue from gender-sensitive development. We are aware that women have not enjoyed the same opportunities and benefits as men in many countries, which puts them at a disadvantage. Consequently, every effort is made to redress gender disparities across the awards cycle. Australia Awards works with the national Coordinating Authorities and women organisations in Africa to ensure that as many eligible women as possible are reached at the award promotions and communications stage.
For women with children
If you are considering applying for an award but are concerned that your childcare responsibilities will prevent your participation, please speak to us first. Below are some examples of women’s barriers to participation that we have been able to overcome:
- A female applicant succeeded in getting an interview but could not travel and attend as she was advanced in her pregnancy. When she explained the situation to us, we were able to organise for a Skype interview;
- A female applicant was awarded but could not attend the Pre Departure Briefing (PDB) as she had a new born baby that she could not leave behind. When she explained the situation to us, we were able to meet the cost of transporting a nanny so that she could attend the event;
- A female applicant was offered a Masters Scholarship but was due to deliver during the first semester. We helped her to defer the award for one year until the baby was older;
- A female applicant was reconsidering attending an interview because she lacked confidence in the English language. Interviews can be intimidating, especially for non-assertive women or those not used to public speaking. We ensure as far as possible that there are as many women as men on the interview panel thus providing a relaxed interview atmosphere. The information session further provides a forum to discuss interview tips
We believe that a decision on scholarships impacts on the whole family. We encourage women and men to involve their partners in discussions about the implications of going to Australia either for a short- or long-term award. Awardees should carefully consider the implications of going on award with family (child care costs, employment possibilities for a partner, balancing your family responsibilities with your study commitments, etc.) as well as the implications of leaving them behind. Awardees should further consider their course duration and make plans with their family and employers.
The African Women in Leadership Network facilitates mentorships between female awardees and female Alumni from the same institution and country for peer support where Awardees are advised on life in Australia before they mobilise.
For women without children
In some ways it may be more straightforward to go on award as a single woman without family commitments. However, women regardless of whether they have children may face various gender-related constraints while on overseas studies. The Africa Connect Facebook group site supports networking among Awardees and Alumni and is an ideal opportunity for Awardees to connect, share and support each other.
Australia Awards approach to Gender and Development
We wish to ensure the equal participation and benefit to our awards by men and women, and acknowledge that both men and women have a vital role as transformative leaders in promoting Social Inclusion at their workplace and communities.