Australia-supported alumni in PH celebrate women leadership in first virtual conference

Australia-supported alumni in PH celebrate women leadership in first virtual conference


Over 100 Australia-supported Filipino alumni recently gathered virtually to engage in meaningful conversations on women leadership during the pandemic. Inspired by the exemplary response of women leaders globally and locally to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event dubbed “Women Leadership in the New Normal” is the first online Knowledge Sharing Series (KSS) organised by the Australia Awards and Alumni Engagement Program - Philippines’ (AAAEP-P). 

“The Australian Government recognises the important role and contribution that women make to achieve national and regional development outcomes, promote economic growth and good governance, to reduce poverty. While it is encouraging to see how Filipino women are increasingly empowered over the years in so many aspects of their lives – education, career, family – there is still work to be done, especially in the face of the new normal brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Steven J. Robinson AO, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines. 

The first online KSS aimed to address the further work needed to support Filipino women’s empowerment, professional development, and leadership by stirring up conversations on the value of women during a crisis. Key women leaders including Mylene Abiva, President of the Philippine Women’s Business Council and one of the 100 influential women in the world, served as keynote speaker during the event where she shared her knowledge and personal experience on handling crisis, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Women leaders are operating under a series of uncertainty alerts due to the pandemic. Women Leaders – are Super Humans – we are wired to cope with uncertainty. Women leaders demonstrate superior relational skills. Women leaders can move swiftly and proactively to alter their course and chart a new one – and capitalise on dislocations in the market. Women leaders need to be agile to continue to contribute to the economic recovery of our country during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Mylene Abiva. 

Another inspiring Filipino woman leader, Angie Sta. Maria, Business Development Consultant at Gallup based in Singapore, spoke about insights for women leaders. “I believe a woman leader has a deeper sense of nurturing and intuition that’s built-in. Empowered, she builds on these attributes and adds the other essential traits like sound decision-making, creating communities, to the point that they are like families, and making sure the work is done and done well because she sees how everyone benefits from this. During these challenging times, we need to step up and provide compassion, hope, trust and stability which are the 4 needs of followers, as Gallup’s research has found. The value of intentionally showing these traits spell care which is what will take us through our current and future reality,” she said. 

Meanwhile, the breakout sessions featured various topics including public health, governance, education, environment and disaster risk reduction, business/social enterprise, technology and innovation and media and advertising. Thought leaders including Australia-educated alumni served as speakers of the sessions. 

Australia Awards alumna Lorraine Luna Danipog of the Civil Service Commission, who was one of the event participants, made sure not to miss the KSS to reconnect with her fellow alumni, learn from the speakers, and exchange thoughts and ideas on women leadership, which she considers as a timely theme. “I learned how women fair well in crisis management especially in the midst of a pandemic, and that we women should step up and take opportunities to lead. It aligns with my personal conviction that women are not inferior leaders. Instead, we have a unique way of seeing things, making decisions, and taking actions. Our empathic and nurturing nature are considered as strengths, and these traits serve us well especially during crisis,” she said. 

While majority of the event participants were female, there were also a handful of male participants and even volunteers. Australia Awards alumnus, Kim Patria, who works at the Australian Government’s Investing in Women program, was inspired to volunteer as one of the event facilitators as the KSS theme aligned closely with his professional interest and personal advocacy. 

“I wanted to get involved as a male alumni stepping up beside women to promote their roles in leadership. In conversations around gender equality and women's economic empowerment, it is important to engage men as this issue impacts everyone, regardless of gender. It was heartening to see a good number of male alumni joining the conversation during the KSS – and hopefully this interest and enthusiasm will continue to grow,” he said. 

KSS is a professional development series that provides an opportunity for Filipino alumni to share their expertise on relevant topics, network with fellow alumni, and engage in meaningful collaborations. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the KSS found a new platform online and are set to happen quarterly. Visit for updates on these events.