Mozambican women Alumni prove their mettle

Lucia Cherinda and Ana Charles are among Mozambique’s strong and driven women who have overcome cultural beliefs and attitudes surrounding women’s education to successfully complete their Masters education in Australia under Australian Government funding.

At the time Lucia received her Award, she had a baby and had to ask her mother to look after the child while she went to study in Australia. “Instead of passing up the opportunity to further my education because of my baby’s age, I decided to negotiate with my family and convinced them to look after the baby. When I came back, I had a Masters degree, but not without having had to make some hard decisions. I will never regret going for the Scholarship.”

Lucia’s inspiring story goes beyond the courage and hard choices she made at a personal level. The skills and knowledge acquired through her studies have helped her rise quickly through the ranks of her organisation. She has been able to contribute to development outcomes by sharing the benefits of education far beyond the confines of her own life.

Lucia was Third Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation before her Australian Scholarship. She studied for a Masters degree in Trade and Foreign Affairs from 1999 to 2001, and upon her return, was promoted to Second Secretary. A year later, Lucia was promoted to First Secretary and was sent to London on a diplomatic work assignment for seven years. During this period, Lucia contributed to the development of her home country by promoting Mozambique’s potential within the business community and government institutions in the United Kingdom, and advocated for her country’s development.

She played a pivotal role in attracting funding for development projects in key sectors such as tourism and agriculture.

On completion of her assignment in London, Lucia returned to Mozambique, where she has since spearheaded the establishment of the Mozambique-Australia Alumni Association. She is lending her enthusiasm and leadership to this initiative, the goals of which include identifying other talented Mozambicans with a passion to advance the country’s future, while bolstering ties with Australia.

Another Mozambican professional, Ana Charles, who works in the public health field, describes her Australian scholarship experience as empowering. “I had always wanted to upgrade my academic qualifications, and when the opportunity arose for me to take up an Australian Development Scholarship, I seized it,” says Ana.

Ana, who was awarded a scholarship to study for a Masters in Public Health at the University of Queensland from 2003 to 2005, had to relocate her 17-year-old daughter to study in South Africa as part of her preparations. Ana’s contributions to development outcomes since returning from her Award have been far-reaching.

She has served as Chief of the Department of Environmental Health in the Ministry of Health and Chief of the Department of Health Promotion. She has been responsible for the capacity building of health professionals in Mozambique’s 11 provinces and has contributed to several key health-focused studies, including research related to HIV and AIDS, and the H1N1 influenza virus.

Ana was also involved in the development of some of Mozambique’s national policies, including the National Health Regulations and the National Regulations for Bottled Water.

In 2011, Ana joined the Mozambique-based Ariel Foundation Glaser (affiliated to the international Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation) as a founding member and coordinator, and has been making significant contributions to combat and eliminate paediatric HIV and AIDS. Ana has also found time to mentor other Mozambicans in her field of expertise, thereby sharing her knowledge and skills.

Australia Awards – Africa targets equal participation by women and men. Applications from women are strongly encouraged, and there are mechanisms in place to support women applicants and Awardees. Of the long-term Awardees for 2013, 48% are women.

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