So, I’m currently winging my way to Fiji for the World YWCA Pacific Leadership Summit where I am joining a training team of amazing women from across the pacific region and around 20 young women leaders for five days of leadership training, personal development and best of all, CIRCUS!!!! Yes, that’s right, this will make it the second country in four months that I’ve been asked to run circus training in and I’m not even a circus trainer! So I’ve been busy making hula hoops and juggling balls and planning a fabulous program and fabulousness for all the amazing young women that I’ll be working with over the next week.
The Pacific Leadership Summit is a pretty amazing concept. See, last year, AusAID the Australian aid organisation gave the World YWCA a bunch of money to do leadership training for young women in the Asia – Pacific region. YWCAs around the region have been at the forefront of young women’s leadership development for many years now, YWCA young women leaders pop up all over the place in positions with large NGOs, UN agencies, local associations, in government, all over the place and luckily AusAID has recognised the role that YWCAs can play in ensuring that young women are being supported among our developing neighbours.
The project that World YWCA, with the help of of a pretty speccy consultant, has come up with is quite frankly, one of the best examples of meaningful leadership development that I’ve come across in my years of working in leadership and young women’s programming. The concept is that groups of emerging leaders from the YWCA movements in Fiji, Samoa, PNG, Solomon Islands, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka will be given in depth training in not just their own leadership skills but in the development of leadership training for other young women. This training will include budgeting, reporting, submission writing, program development and will feature best practice examples of leadership programs from across the region. Participants will then have the opportunity to write funding submissions for Power to Change grants, World YWCA grants that will fund their projects but also offer a framework within which to develop the skills to seek funding from other sources. During the summit young women participants will be able to pitch their ideas to other large funders in the region and gain further feedback on how best to approach this activity. All nations also get paired with mentors from the training team (i get to mentor the Fijian group) giving them ongoing support and guidance in the development and implementation of their project. The skills that will be developed are really quite exceptional and I for one am incredibly excited about being involved as communications dudette. I’m really loving the idea of putting young women in the centre of their own development activities.
I’ll be spending the week taking photographs, interviewing participants, tweeting (#pls) helping them write blog posts and of course, blogging and writing articles myself for the World YWCA website and feminaust.
Naturally I’m also excited about what I’ll get to learn over the week, working with an exceptional training team of amazing women and I get to do it all in stunning Fiji! Who could ask for more really???
Well I guess I could… as well as this summit, I’ll be returning to Fiji during the year to visit the project, give further hands on support to my team and help iron out any kinks or nicks before the funding period is over and the team have to report back on their activities. In March, we’ll all be heading for Thailand to meet up with the Asian programs teams and report back on all our activities, which is lucky coz it means I’ll be pushing a bit of a competitive edge (wanting my team to be the bestest of course).
I use the word “meaningful” a lot in my work. I’ve seen a lot of superficial and meaningless youth participation and leadership development activities in my time and it really irritates me that project workers and funders can’t get a bit more creative in their engagement with young people and working for the best possible outcomes for them. It’s the reason that IsBambi and I decided to start the feminaust fund (for which applications are still open, so get moving on them!) we were sick of seeing fantastic and worthy projects not getting any notice and too often, big names or shiny ideas getting traction they don’t deserve (see posts on the body image awards). In the future, when the feminaust fund is massive and impressive, this is the sort of thing I’d like to see it funding, really proactive, exciting and most of all, meaningful opportunities for the support and development of the bestest young women Australia can offer.