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Women leaders in South Asia learn about transformative women’s economic empowerment

Posted: 7 March 2022

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, APO, Inclusion,

Australia Awards works with local and international organisations to provide Australian Professional Opportunities (APOs) to participants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. APOs are learning and development activities funded by the Australian Government to support leaders from priority sectors with additional learning and networking opportunities.

Over the past three months, Australia Awards has supported emerging women leaders in South Asia to strengthen their skills and competencies through an APO on ‘Leading for Women’s Economic Empowerment’.

Delivered by gender experts from the Flinders University Gender Consortium in Australia and across the Indo-Pacific region, this APO helped 18 women from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal to broaden their understanding of what is needed to achieve transformative economic empowerment for women.

Achieving this goal means looking at more than just increasing women’s incomes or labour force participation. The APO enabled participants to gain a practical understanding of gender-responsive social protection systems, the links between gender-based violence (GBV) and economic empowerment, how to disrupt market systems by addressing modern slavery, and enabling gender-responsive supply chains.

The course was designed not only to widen and deepen the participants’ understanding of women’s economic empowerment, but also to support them to step into relevant leadership roles at the local, national and international levels. Through the APO, participants built a collaborative network across countries in the South Asia region for continued sharing of knowledge and joint action.

One participant from Bhutan commented, “This training has been enriching in terms of learning new topics like safety nets and modern slavery, and has enhanced my knowledge and understanding of GBV and women 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.”

Another participant from Nepal said, “This experience has helped me to gain a deeper understanding of topics I wasn’t well aware of. I was able to learn from a team of experienced women and being one of them was a great experience.”

Participants during the symposium event

The course culminated in a symposium event at which participants presented to gender experts from around the Indo-Pacific region, as well as representatives from Australia Awards and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Bangladesh, Nepal and India.

In the months and years to come, we look forward to seeing these participants step up and onto the global stage with their work to improve the lives of women.