Women law students and top Australian and Papua New Guinean lawyers teamed up over the weekend in a unique mentoring program, supported by the Australian Government in partnership with the Papua New Guinea Legal Training Institute.
The two-day course, managed by the Legal Training Institute (LTI) in partnership with the Victorian Bar, engaged 34 Papua New Guinean women law students in workshops on advocacy, ethics, and women’s advancement within the legal profession.
Speaking at the opening, Justice Hitelai-Polume paid tribute to the late Justice Catherine Davani, recognising that her many achievements make her an inspirational role model for the LTI students to accomplish their own goals.
Lawyer Trainees Elthel Gaudi and Gloria Samo at the Empowering Women's Training in Port Moresby on 12 November 2016
“Choose the path that you want to follow, and you follow that path. We all come from different backgrounds in Papua New Guinea, but I’m pretty sure our mothers and our fathers would always encourage us to follow that dream.”
LTI student, Vanessa Paul, said the local and international mentors were inspiring: “They have shown that regardless of the environment or workplace we go in to, it’s about our determination to do the best we can to prove ourselves worthy, that we deserve to be there, in that position. From these sessions, what I will take away with me, and try to pass on to other women is that we women are strong, we can be whatever we want to be.”
Legal Training Institute trainee lawyer Vanessa Paul at the the women's Empowering Women's Training workshop in Port Moresby on 12 November 2016
Victorian Barrister Christine Melis told the LTI students to “dream big”, and be grateful for one’s blessings, friends and family: “That helps me to get through every day, to continue to achieve, and know that I can do everything that a man can do.”
The course matched the students with men and women mentors, and was facilitated at the end of a week-long civil and criminal advocacy workshop with members of the Victorian Bar.
Australian High Commission Minister Counsellor Catherine Fitch said mentoring plays a large role in giving women the confidence and support to reach their full potential.
“Boosting women’s empowerment in legal practice will support their advancement into leadership positions in the public service, the private sector, as well as in political leadership roles,” Ms Fitch said.
“When 100 percent of the population is empowered, development thrives at community, provincial and national levels.”
The K200,000 mentoring program and advocacy workshops were funded by the Australian Government as part of its the partnership with the Government of Papua New Guinea to strengthen law and justice in Papua New Guinea.
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