Australia Awards launched the African Women in Leadership Network at a high-profile event in Monrovia, Liberia, officiated by Liberian President, HE Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, on 18 March 2013.
The Network will promote Australian Government scholarships to potential female applicants from eligible countries in Africa and support scholarship recipients going to Australia to pursue their postgraduate studies. Members are also encouraged to engage in and provide leadership for gender and development initiatives in their home countries.
Increasing opportunities for women is an important element of Australia’s development cooperation efforts. The African Women in Leadership Network has tremendous potential for advancing this objective.
In a show of support for the initiative, President Sirleaf thanked the Australian Government for launching the Network in Liberia and for providing scholarships to Liberians. She also spoke about the importance of Australia Awards and how she would like Alumni to become leaders in government.
“We need you. You had the opportunity to train and to come back to Liberia to apply what you learned. If you are committed and want to be a part of development in the country, we want to talk to you,” she said.
About 40 guests, including 26 male and female Alumni from Liberia and the nearby countries of Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria, attended the one-day event. Other dignitaries, including HE Joanna Adamson, Australian Ambassador to Liberia, Hon. Etmonia David Tarpeh, Liberian Minister of Education, and Jamie Isbister, Australian Government representative and Minister-Counsellor (Africa), also participated in the event.
Ambassador Adamson stressed that gender equality is at the core of Australia’s development cooperation efforts and that the African Women in Leadership Network aims to increase women’s participation in the Scholarship program and in the development of their home countries in general.
Mr Isbister praised the enthusiasm of Alumni: “It is exciting to see Alumni on return and the energy they bring back to support development in Africa. I hope the Network will be a mechanism for Alumni to engage in such activities, promote the awards and better engage Alumni with those on scholarship.”
Minister Tarpeh spoke about women in Liberian society and the active role they are increasingly playing in leadership.
Teta Lincoln, Australia Awards Alumni ambassador in Liberia, delivered an inspirational speech about the importance of women’s education in Africa and called for members of the Network to help increase opportunities for women by being mentors and leaders.