Women leading and influencing



Second intensive helps WLI participants exercise leadership in the Pacific

Friday, 3 December 2021

Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) participants are a step closer to achieving their developmental leadership goals after a week of intensive skills development, networking and capacity building in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

As part of WLI’s 2021 Leadership & Mentoring program, ten emerging leaders from five Pacific Island countries – Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga and Kiribati – travelled to Canberra and the Australian bush in Tharwa in early December 2021 to take part in a range of activities designed to boost leadership capacity, build lasting relationships, and promote self-care.

The week-long experience – held at Outward Bound Australia – enabled participants to disconnect from the pressures of everyday life while learning new skills and building new connections. The program encouraged participants to reflect more deeply on their own leadership interests, and how they can support each other to drive developmental change in the Pacific.

For Jocelyn Loughman from Vanuatu, the intensive offered the opportunity to “(re)connect with myself after a very challenging year and ask some very hard questions such as 'What is my purpose?, Who are my networks?’. She also relished the chance to “meet with other Pasifika sisters”, especially after a tough year of lockdowns here in Australia.

Participant Mary Konobo from Papua New Guinea described the intensive as “a rich space for unique growth and connection”, allowing her and her fellow participants to “harness our collective voice and power . . . to drive change”:

“Reconnecting with each other in the last four days has allowed us to reflect on our progress and how far we’ve come in . . . bringing action in our various fields and interests. We have never been more ready to be the leaders that [we know] we can be”, said Mary.  

WLI Program Leader, Georgina Cope, commended the dedication and enthusiasm of the participants:

“It was such an honour to spend time with this amazing group of women, all of whom have endured  significant pandemic-related challenges over the past two years.  Their energy, dedication and commitment to leading positive change in the Pacific is just inspiring”.

Georgina also acknowledged those who were unable to attend due to COVID-19 border restrictions, or early return home to the Pacific, noting that their “presence was truly missed”.

The five-day leadership intensive was officially opened by DFAT’s ‘Alopi Latukefu on Monday 29 November 2021, and concluded with a special reception at DFAT’s London Circuit offices on the participants’ final morning on Friday 3 December 2021.


Participants of the WLI Leadership & Mentoring Program undertake two leadership intensives in which they learn about developmental, ontological and adaptive leadership, engage in learning sessions with prominent Pacific and Australian women and men, and test their understandings of, and approaches to, leadership and what this means in their personal contexts.