11 Nov

Inspiring the women of the future

Each year the British High Commission in Canberra helps Indigenous Australian scholars to study in the UK by lending the support of our Chevening Scholarships scheme to the Charlie Perkins Trust. We asked three of these remarkable young people – Jessica Buck, Jessyca Hutchens and Tamara Murdock – to take part in the Women of the Future summit held last month in London as part of the Week of Women. Here’s their report of the event.

We began the summit at the drinks event at the Guildhall, which was a great opportunity to meet and mingle with other participants. The next morning began with the opening of the London Stock Exchange, where we met the CEO Xavier Rolet and several staff who explained the operations of the stock exchange. It was much more modern than we expected, and we watched the digital opening where the Women of the Future summit was celebrated with a multimedia display. This was also a great opportunity to meet the delegates and network.

The summit itself was a series of inspiring talks and panel discussions that allowed us to not only gain better insight into the lives and careers of incredible women, but also to witness a dialogue on current affairs affecting women and society at large. In particular, we enjoyed the talk on collaborating to empower societal, financial and corporate change by Miriam Gonzalez Durantez who runs the Inspiring Women campaign. Her talk really reflected on how women, even now, are shaped by perceived gender roles, from children at school to a politician’s wife who chose not to give up her career.

One of the panels that reflected on global issues was also very inspiring, particularly the incredible story of Shireen Rahmani who showed great strength and determination in the face of conflict and turmoil in Afghanistan to succeed in the telecommunications business and bring better access to communication in remote parts of that country. Similarly, Viola Llewellyn who was working on developing culturally appropriate financial technologies in Africa, challenged perceptions that development means adopting Western practices. This particularly resonated with us, as this is often the situation in Indigenous communities in Australia.

The inspiring women were not just on the stage but were all around us, and we enjoyed meeting the women at our table who were business leaders and researchers, and other women we met while queueing for coffee and eating delicious desserts. The theme of the summit, collaborative leadership, was not just discussed but was shown in action as women all around us shared ideas and stories. We would like to thank the British High Commission for the opportunity to attend this summit, and we are still discussing and thinking about aspects that have resonated with each of us.

You can find out more about the Charlie Perkins Scholarships here. Applications for next year’s programme will be open until Monday 14th December 2015.

This blog post from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office can be found here

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