Women leading and influencing



WLI Celebrates 5 Years of Promoting Pacific Women’s Leadership & Looks Ahead to New Phase

Thursday, 16 June 2022

In June 2022, the Australia Awards Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) celebrates coming to the end of its first five-year phase of programming to empower a future generation of women leaders in the Pacific region.

Reflecting on highlights from Phase 1, the WLI team is privileged to have supported hundreds of Pacific Australia Awards scholars – women and men – through a range of leadership skill building, networking, professional development activities.

Building on the most successful parts of WLI to date, a new program phase will begin in July 2022. Renamed Australia Awards ‘Women Leading and Influencing’ (still WLI to those who know and love it!) the program will continue to support participants, alumni, and the Pacific Australia Awards community in their exercise of leadership for positive development change.


[Pictured: 2019 WLI Leadership & Mentoring program alumni]

The Women's Leadership Initiative in focus: highlights from Phase 1

Since commencing in 2018, WLI has delivered a range of learning, networking and development opportunities to Australia Awards scholars from the Pacific studying at Australian universities and institutions.

During this time:

  • 23 WLI Learning & Networking events focused on big ideas and leadership issues important to the Pacific region have attracted 1,278 attendees – including Australia Awards scholars of all genders.
  • 126 WLI Leadership & Mentoring program participants were matched with 141 Australian women mentors leading in their fields, from STEM to Education, Law and Agriculture.
  • 231 LeadershipConnect participants from 11 Pacific countries (Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Tonga, Vanuatu), including 48 men, were supported to stay connected and build leadership skills during the pandemic.
  • 33 workplace and professional development opportunities for WLI participants in Australia and the Pacific were supported through the WLI Workplace Internships program. 
  • 26 WLI Leadership for COVID-19 Response and Recovery initiatives were implemented by 63 participants and alumni – with many projects still ongoing today as a result of sustainability plans developed by the implementing WLI teams.

[Pictured left to right: 2021 WLI Leadership & Mentoring participants Sophie Sindra Hepota, Tracey Falemanu Tupou, Emily Ipi and Mary Gaige]

A new phase with enhanced support for alumni returning home & engaging men in gender equality

From 1 July 2022, ‘Women Leading and Influencing’ (WLI) will continue to support participants, alumni, and the Pacific Australia Awards community in their exercise of leadership for positive development change.

In addition to continuing the on-Award activities that have become a hallmark of the first phase, the new program will bring an increased focus on providing reintegration support for alumni returning home to the Pacific, and engaging men as allies, champions and supporters of women’s leadership.

By strengthening and extending the high-impact activities, practices and networks built in Phase 1, participants and alumni will be even better prepared to exercise developmental leadership and drive change in their own countries and contexts.    

We are excited to share further updates in the coming weeks, as the new program gets underway.