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Advancing women’s empowerment through Australian Professional Opportunities

Posted: 12 May 2023

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, APO, Inclusion, Linkages,

Two significant multi-country Australian Professional Opportunities supported 38 women leaders with valuable learning and networking opportunities in 2022.

Australia Awards works with local and international organisations to provide Australian Professional Opportunities (APOs) to participants from Program countries. APOs are short-term professional development activities offering valuable learning and networking, funded by the Australian Government to support leaders from priority sectors.

Of the 15 APOs delivered in 2022, two were multi-country online training programs designed to promote women’s empowerment: Leading for Women’s Economic Empowerment and Gender Equality and Respect in the Workplace.

Leading for Women’s Economic Empowerment, developed for women in early career stages and middle management, addressed the diverse barriers women face when accessing appropriate and safe work. Eighteen women from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal participated, broadening their understanding of what is needed to achieve transformative economic empowerment for women.

Topics covered included gender-responsive social protection systems, the links between gender-based violence and economic empowerment, addressing modern slavery, and enabling gender-responsive supply chains. Participant Namgay Choden from Bhutan commented, “This training has been enriching… and has enhanced my knowledge and understanding of gender-based violence and women’s leadership through discussions and coaching from experts and my peers from different countries. I was able to widen my network globally through this platform. All in all, it was a great learning opportunity for me.”

With 20 female participants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, the second multi-country APO was regionally significant for South Asia. Gender Equality and Respect in the Workplace was designed to build participants’ knowledge and capabilities regarding primary prevention initiatives to counter gender-based violence in professional settings.

Delivered in the form of a webinar series, the APO covered gender audit tools, audit policies and practices, and planning for organisational change. It also provided an opportunity for the participants to establish a network among themselves and facilitate peer learning. Additional components included mentoring, sessions from guest speakers and a final symposium offering participants the opportunity to share their learnings.

“I gained valuable insights into the world of work, gender equality tools that are used in Australia and how organisations can improve gender equality markers,” shared participant Heshani Ranasinghe from Sri Lanka. “I was impressed by the expert panel for each section, the variety of aspects that were covered and also the one-on-one mentorship given to us during the course.”

Participants were confident they will use the insights from this training to make organisational changes in their workplaces to support gender equality.

Image at top of page: Australia Awards scholars on campus in Melbourne in 2022. From left to right: Shraddha Manandhar (Nepal), Nusrat Sharmin (Bangladesh), Radhika Orari (Bhutan), Puva Ponniah (Sri Lanka), Aminath Samaha (Maldives), Suki Byambanaran (Mongolia) and Tooba Khan (Pakistan).