Australian alumni participants and Course Facilitators
Good morning and congratulations for your selection in this leadership workshop!
A warm welcome to Mauritius for our delegates from Madagascar and Seychelles!
- I am delighted to welcome you all to this inaugural Regional Women in Leadership workshop organised jointly by the Women in Leadership Network with support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) under the Australia Awards Program in Africa.
- This is the third forum in a series of 3 workshops delivered in 2018 targeting some 90 women alumni in the African region – the first for Mauritius with 31 alumni participating.
- Two other workshops were held earlier (Nairobi in March and Harare last week).
- We are particularly pleased that this workshop coincides with the Australia Week Festival which is being held in the context of the Mauritius golden jubilee celebrations this year.
- Gender equality and women’s economic empowerment are a core part of Australian foreign policy, economic diplomacy and development cooperation –we recognise that women contribute to socio-economic growth, peace and security, development and stability.
- While contributing to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and capacity-building in the economic development and in Africa, the Australia Awards Programs also accompany alumni through continuous professional development
- the Australian women in leadership programs aim at inspiring and enabling women to surmount barriers in decision making and value-add in their professional as well as social networks. Such programs encourage you to continue to be positive influencers in your respective spheres.
- This two-day workshop has been specially designed for you and aims at bringing out your unique capabilities to the leadership challenges in your professional environment by improving your negotiation skills, and refining your decision-making qualities
- We hope the skills you gain will allow you to contribute towards achieving the SDGs and, more broadly, achieve your potential in your broader professional and personal lives.
- The workshop will present a mix of plenary presentations, case studies, self-assessment exercises, exploratory deliberations, as well as group work that aims to bring out experiential learning and stir inspiration from your diverse cultural backgrounds.
- I am accredited to four countries (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles) in this region and I am proud to say that we have a strong agenda for promoting women economic empowerment in this region not only under the Australia Awards’ program but also through regional organisations like the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and initiatives of the Australian Embassy including our Direct Aid Program.
- One of our key activities this year under the Embassy’s gender action plan was the launching of the Mauritius Chapter of the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World (OSWD) in the margins of the inaugural Australia-Mauritius Research and Innovation Forum successfully held in February.
- The first President of the Mauritian chapter is an Australian alumna (Dr Devika Saddul)
- Devika is one of the many Australian women alumni using her skills, passion, knowledge and networks to take a leadership role at national or regional levels and inspire younger women in using their knowledge and education to bolster the women in leadership networks in the region.
- We know that mentoring other women is an important feature of achieving gender equity and advancing the women’s economic empowerment agenda.
- And having role models for our women and men that represent the diversity of our communities and appreciate the importance of inclusive leadership.
- Tomorrow, you’ll have a special guest (Hon Mrs Roubina Jadoo-Jaunbocus, Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare) who will be able to share with you her path to political leadership. This will be a unique opportunity for you to interact with her in the Q & A session.
- And tomorrow evening, I look forward to hosting you at the Australian Residence at the closing reception where we hope Mauritius’ first female Vice Prime Minister will join us and say some remarks.
- Talking personally, in a practical sense, our own workplace has gender equity mainstreamed across our agenda. We have a gender focal point (our new Second Secretary Natasha Morris), and a strong representation of women across the range of functions of our workplace. We develop a gender action plan with KPIs aligning it with the Australian Government’s Foreign Policy interests as articulated in the Government’s White Paper released last year.
- The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has its own Women in Leadership strategy born out of the fact that in 2015 while over 57 percent of staff were women, women made up fewer than 34 percent of our Senior Executive Service and only 27 percent of heads of mission and posts. This is despite performance data showing that women are performing in our organisation as well if not better than men at all levels across our agency. As part of our Women in Leadership Strategy, we have adopted a strong program on inclusive leadership and we have set targets by 2020.
- In Mauritius I have the honour of being the fourth consecutive female head of mission – and am a member of our Senior Executive Service, recognising too that we have established the prestigious Australia Awards Women in Leadership Award in honour of the late Sandra Vegting.
- I have had the benefit of being strongly mentored in my professional career and had the opportunity to undertake women in leadership training in recent years as part of an active training and development program within my own organisation.
- Through this inaugural workshop, we hope the skills and knowledge you gain and share during this course will contribute to the exciting future opportunities that lie ahead for you all.
- As Australian Alumni we are proud of your achievements. I am honoured to be within this group today and we look forward to continuing to support your journey.
- With these remarks, I declare the workshop open.
10 April 2018