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Celebrating the power of collective action on International Women’s Day

Posted: 8 March 2019

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Impact, Inclusion,

International Women’s Day (IWD) is marked across the world today (8 March), celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness against bias and encouraging action for equality.

While the international theme of the day #BalanceforBetter is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world, Australia’s IWD 2019 theme, More Powerful Together, recognises the important role played by everyone: women, men, and non-binary and gender diverse people.

Australia Awards is committed to Gender Equality and Social Inclusion in South and West Asia and many activities have been initiated by the program to help drive gender balance and facilitate women’s empowerment in the region.

The Australian Government Scholarships program boasts alumni across the region who are challenging stereotypes and gendered roles – while at the same time making a difference. To mark IWD 2019, we are turning the spotlight on a few of these alumni:

Since its launch in 2015, the Australia Awards Women in Leadership Network for South and West Asia has become an important avenue to support the empowerment of women and has opened functioning chapters in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The Network comprises of nearly 200 women and men committed to collective action, building capacities and capabilities to contribute to the achievement of long-term sustainable development in the region.

Various Australia Awards events are happening this week in the region to celebrate IWD 2019. One of these events was in Bhutan this week: the Australia Awards Women in Leadership Network conducted a fundraising event to support the education of disadvantaged girls from Zhemgang, a remote area in Bhutan.

More Powerful Together: The Australia Awards Women in Leadership Network in Bhutan conducted an event to mark IWD 2019, which will help support the education of disadvantaged girls from Zhemgang, a remote district in Bhutan

Australia Awards is committed to the promotion of women leaders. Of the Australia Awards Scholarship recipients from South and West Asia who commenced study in Australia at the start of this year, 106 (or 55%) are women. In Pakistan, Australia Awards achieved a milestone with more than 60% of Scholarship recipients being women.

Australia Awards also delivers Short Courses on Women in Executive Leadership across the region, with a focus on building personal, team and organisational leadership capabilities and fostering the next generation of female leaders. The most recent Women in Executive Leadership Short Course finished in February and was delivered for a group of inspiring Pakistani leaders.

Participants of the Australia Awards Short Course on Women in Executive Leadership for Pakistan in February 2019

Annual Australia Awards activities across the region demonstrate the power of collective action throughout the year, such as the Regional Alumni Workshop and Scholars Forums.

In the words of the UN Women National Committee Australia: ‘It takes all of us, working in collaboration and across that which sometimes divides us, breaking down stereotypes and gendered roles to create a world where women and girls everywhere have equal rights and opportunities.’