GEM Division participants at the launch of the WiSP Programme in Suva
A new SPC programme to support women leaders in the Pacific officially began this week in Suva. The Women in Sustainable Development Program (WiSP) is focused on career development, mentoring and leadership skills.
The inaugural cohort consists of 21 Pacific Island mentees working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) within SPC’s Geoscience, Energy and Maritime Division (GEM).
The participants at the launch said they are inspired and excited to embark on this 12-month journey with one participant saying “the excitement of starting this journey and learning with these special women and mentors is an empowering experience”.
At present women make up 57% of all college degrees globally but only 35% are scientific degrees and women represent only 22% of the scientific workforce. This programme is designed to help increase these numbers in the Pacific and to encourage women to put their hands up for roles they are passionate about.
Deputy Director General of SPC, Dr Audrey Aumua officially launched the program at a breakfast event where she reflected on her own personal journey and recognised the important role mentors have played in her life and career.
“Leadership comes from your heart and it’s about practising who you are in different spaces. We have a huge organisation at SPC and what we need to aspire to is the culture of mentorship becoming part of the culture of our organisation. It doesn’t just happen, it has to be supported. This culture is now going to start to be built within the GEM Division to support Pacific women leaders in science”.
She encouraged the participants to grab every mentor opportunity and leadership training within the programme with ‘both hands’.
“I think of mentorship more as accompanying me, where someone will guide me and support me and accompany me through my leadership process. It’s a career training tool so don’t step back when it’s offered to you. Always reach out. Being in a mentor program is key to future leadership”.
At the launch two guest speakers spoke of their own journeys into leadership and the challenges they’ve faced offering support and guidance to the young to mid-career professionals who are part of the program.
Well-known young pacific leader Merewalesi Nailatikau encouraged the mentees to step-up to opportunities, even when challenges were present in their career.
“Having uncomfortable and tough conversations are important. My advice is not to delay or put off these conversations. Have the necessary uncomfortable conversation as soon as you possibly can. Lean in without fear,” she said.
Ms Noelene Nabulivou of DIVA also spoke and encouraged participants to be authentic to who they are as people in both their career and personal lives.
“Our life journeys and our personal politics is what brings us through and allows us to articulate who we are. Leadership is about showing your soft underbelly. I am tough, but I am also a huge softy. You require both, the velvet and the steel, to get through this crazy world,” she said.
The inaugural pilot programme was initiated by a group of colleagues at the Geoscience Energy and Maritime (GEM) Division within SPC and will be piloted within the Division over the next 12-months.
Lisa Kingsberry, Team Leader GEM Communications & Knowledge Management & WiSP Program Coordination Unit. | [email protected] | +679 7252849 | +61 419023704 (viber)
SPC Media contacts : +679 337 9250 (Fiji) or +687 26 20 00 (Noumea) - [email protected]
The Pacific Community has been supporting sustainable development in the Pacific, through science, knowledge and innovation since 1947. It is the principal intergovernmental organization in the region, owned and governed by its 26 member countries and territories.