Australia hosted a regional workshop for the African Women in Leadership Network in Nairobi on 10 and 11 March. The workshop brought together 32 female Alumni from the Australian Government’s flagship Australia Awards program, representing 14 countries across Africa.
Opening the event, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, First Lady of the Republic of Kenya, emphasised the need for women leaders to use their influence to spearhead initiatives that benefit society as a whole. “Alumni are vital to advocating for change and for positively influencing policies and culture that will better the lives of women and their families”.
Australia’s High Commissioner to Kenya, His Excellency John Feakes, commended the inspiration, drive and passion of the workshop participants. “The members of the African Women in Leadership Network are not only excellent ambassadors for the Australia Awards program, but also powerful advocates for women’s empowerment. In a week in which we celebrate International Women’s Day, we cannot forget that the obstacles to genuine gender equality are still very real; but we can achieve so much more when we stand together”.
In keeping with Australia’s own commitment to gender equality, the Australia Awards program in Africa is dedicated to ensuring equal participation by men and women. Having studied at the Australian National University, one of the top 20 universities in the world, Kenya’s Angela Ndaka said she is better equipped to tackle global challenges. “The skills I learned are relevant in Kenya and particularly to the issues affecting women. My passion is to find a way of influencing policy and interventions that address our issues.”
The workshop, which also marked International Women’s Day, provided an opportunity for members to share experiences, explore strategies and develop tools for navigating the modern workplace. The majority of these women work in historically male-dominated fields, such as agriculture and mining. Members called for intensified action by both men and women towards women’s empowerment and genuine gender equality in African workplaces.
The African Women in Leadership Network is a forum that brings together Australia Awards female Alumni. Funded by the Australian Government, the forum was launched in 2013 by Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia. It aims to develop and leverage female Alumni as change agents in their countries. The Network connects past and present female Awardees, providing leadership and mentoring opportunities for women participating in the program. The Australia Awards program is the Australian Government’s flagship program in Africa, valued at AUD100 million. Over 5,000 scholars have benefitted from studies that support the development goals of their countries.