Alumna Emilline Lawkwang, empowers inclusivity and change in Mauritius

In Mauritius, dedicated alumni like Emilline Lawkwang are reshaping the landscape of public service and societal inclusion. As a Management Support Officer at the Public Sector Business Transformation Bureau (PSBTB) of the Ministry of Public Service, Administrative and Institutional Reforms (MPSAIR), Emilline is at the forefront of driving change and reforms within the government sector and the community.

Her journey from student to advocate showcases the power of education, collaboration, and unwavering commitment to societal progress. Her Australia Awards Scholarship (Master of Public Policy from Monash University, 2021) and her professional background equipped Emilline with the knowledge and skills needed to tackle complex societal issues. Modules on governance, strategic leadership, and gender development have provided her with a deeper understanding of the intricacies involved in driving meaningful change.

In her role, Emilline’s responsibilities extend far beyond administrative tasks. Her work is driven by a passion for positive change. Using the skills and knowledge she has accumulated, she has been instrumental in spearheading business transformation initiatives aimed at enhancing efficiency, effectiveness, and overall institutional reforms within the public sector. Emilline, for example, uses her knowledge and skills to inform changes in the areas of policy reform, gender development and strategic communication and to advise on gender policy or national strategies such as the Greening of the Public Sector Strategy.

“In the PSBTB, I have the opportunity to work on specific projects such as the implementation of an electronic registry system (e-Documentation Management System) within the public service as well as on the National Strategy for the Elimination of Gender Based Violence”, she says. 

Emilline’s role in the multidisciplinary team

According to data from Statistics Mauritius in 2022, 82 per cent of domestic violence victims were women. This highlights the significant impact on women and children while acknowledging that men are also victims of Gender-based Violence (GBV).  To contribute to the elimination of GBV, Emilline currently serves as the secretary of a multidisciplinary team tasked with auditing and reviewing the performance of key institutions that address GBV matters. This crucial project, assigned by the Prime Minister’s Office, advises institutions on realignment strategies and conducts impact analysis studies to better serve victims and address societal norms surrounding GBV.

The multidisciplinary team consists of various stakeholders such as the Ministry of Public Service, Administrative and Institutional Reforms (MPSAIR), external experts in psychology, law, and human resource management. The project also involves stakeholders from departments within the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Welfare (MGEFW), the Family Support Bureau and the Child Protection Unit, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Ministry of Education, Tertiary Education and Science and Technology. Other stakeholders include the Ombudsperson’s Office for Children and shelters that help victims of GBV and other NGOs, organisations and social workers are also involved.

In the multidisciplinary team, one of the key functions of the MPSAIR is to carry out regular audits and reviews of the institutions mandated by the Government to address GBV matters. Also, to advise on an effective realignment based on an audit of existing services at the MGEFW and its partners, and to conduct an impact analysis study of current MGEFW programs such as premarital counselling, Men as Partners, Mediation and Counselling for Perpetrators. Emilline agreed to the role of secretary to the multidisciplinary team because it aligns with her commitment to fostering positive change in society. The project allows her to leverage her skills and experience to make a meaningful contribution to the well-being of those who are vulnerable in communities and in the nation at large.

I firmly believe in the transformative power of inclusivity and the positive impact it can have on the overall development of our nation. I also chose to get involved because of my personal experiences in growing up with Cerebral Palsy and having to face societal biases. My passion for creating a more inclusive society, combined with my academic background and professional journey, motivates me to actively engage in projects that foster positive change”, she says. 

Emilline’s disability inclusion campaign and recommendation report

Emilline’s dedication to societal inclusion is further exemplified by her leadership in spearheading a disability inclusion campaign titled ‘Normalising the Inclusion of People with Disabilities in Mauritius.’ The campaign was made possible with funding from the Australian High Commission in Port Louis’ Direct Aid Program. Through this initiative, Emilline aims to raise awareness about the importance of inclusive policies and accessible infrastructure, fostering a more accepting attitude towards individuals with disabilities. The campaign involved several strategies and activities such as an awareness campaign in early 2023, a collaborative three-day workshop which brought stakeholders together, showcasing the achievements of People with Disability, the provision of tools and resources to individuals to advocate for their rights, the drive for continuous updating and effective monitoring of the implementation of disability inclusion policies and the provision of analytic results and recommendations to inform policy reforms, inclusive education, employment, and better healthcare for this minority group.

The workshop held in April 2023 and attended by about 100 participants each day, facilitated discussions and exchanged ideas about improving disability inclusion practices. Following the workshop, Emilline compiled a recommendations report* in collaboration with the workshop participants addressed at government and other stakeholders who impact the lives of People with Disability. The report was released on the International Day of People with Disability in December 2023 and provided a comprehensive list of recommendations such as the need to enhance accessibility, the integration of people with disability into mainstream activities, addressing stigma, and the promotion of the use of inclusive language.

Overall Emilline’s campaign, the workshop and the subsequent report contributed to increased awareness about the challenges faced by People with Disability in Mauritius, fostered new and strengthen existing collaborations between stakeholders, empowered People with Disability to become more active in advocating for their rights and needs, showcased the success stories and achievements of People with Disability and set the groundwork for the development and implementation of more inclusive policies. Her work also amplified the call for constitutional amendments and the enactment of comprehensive Disability Rights Acts to strengthen the legal protections for People with Disability in Mauritius*.

*The complete report of recommendations can be view at

According to Emilline, this initiative was the first in Mauritius where organisations with different agendas in the disability sphere, came together for a common goal. The initiative potentially also contributed to the Government’s recent introduction of the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, which had its second reading in Parliament in March 2024.

Emilline recently took part in a WIL Workshop at the Charles Telfair Leadership Academy, Curtin Mauritius.

As chairperson of Kolectif MORInkluSif

Emilline also played a key role in the formation of Kolectif MORInkluSif, an independent organisation, facilitating discussions between People with Disability, families, authorities and potential employers and consisting of a diverse group of people who advocate for disability rights in Mauritius. As the chairperson, she facilitated the launch of the group’s website and continues to lead regular meetings to address ongoing and emerging issues about disability rights and inclusion.

Emilline does not hesitate to explore her Australia Awards alumni network and ask for help. For example, fellow alumni helped her to access a pool of resources for the disability inclusion campaign workshop while another alum who is the head of the Training and Employment of Disabled People Board, provided insights and guidance to facilitate People with Disability in joining the labour market.

Emilline’s journey is not without its challenges. Although there is a general willingness to improve efficiency in the public service, bureaucracy is still alive.  The Mauritian society is also still very conservative in its GEDSI views and about aspects such as gender equality and sexual orientation.  A lack of funding means that innovative ideas often remain unimplemented. However, she sees opportunities where others see obstacles. Embracing technology to streamline processes, leveraging social media for advocacy, and exploring public-private partnerships for funding are just a few strategies Emilline employs to address these challenges head-on.

She explains: “I learned that culture plays an important role in gender norms in Mauritius and that sensitising the younger generation through social media can have a positive impact on how they perceive people of different abilities, genders, orientation, race and social status. For humans to flourish, everyone should be concerned as it directly or indirectly affects us all. This is why it is important to involve all stakeholders, including the private sector in issues that affect society”.

Through her efforts, Emilline is shaping a future where every individual, regardless of their abilities or circumstances, has the opportunity to thrive. As she continues to advocate for inclusivity and equity, Emilline is inspiring a generation to believe in the possibility of a better tomorrow.

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