Janice builds Solomon Islands women's financial independence
Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) alumna Janice Ashwin wants to give Solomon Islands women “greater choice and control over their financial lives”.
The World Bank consultant and Bachelor of Business graduate (Victoria University) shared her journey with WLI, how she plans to empower women financially, and her advice to fellow Pacific women Australia Awards scholars.
Honing leadership skills to build women’s independence
In 2018, Janice joined the WLI program to build the networks and hone the developmental leadership skills needed to effect change in her home country.
“Once I am equipped with these leadership skills, I would like to give women greater choice and control over their financial lives. I would like to be part of the agents of change who not only improve lives of women financially but also help women with other challenges that they face in their communities,” said Janice.
To help her do this, Janice hopes to raise awareness of the value and importance of saving, and how to do it. She plans to establish a women’s savings club or similar local enterprise.
Researching savings clubs with mentor Lesley Hoatson
Janice worked closely with her mentor, Lesley Hoatson, an International and Community Development Practitioner. For over 30 years’ Lesley has worked with indigenous and low-income communities in Australia and the Pacific.
Together they researched and analysed various savings club models to find out what made them successful or not. Those learnings will be applied to Janice’s future work in this space.
“My mentor, Lesley, has been really supportive, sharing her knowledge and experience of working in the Solomon Islands and around the Pacific. The mentoring experience itself is a vital component of the program,” said Janice.
Urging fellow Pacific women scholars to build their leadership skills
Janice said she encourages "fellow Australia Awards Pacific women to apply for future cohorts" of the WLI.
"The program offers a platform to build networks with other Pacific Island women and it provides us with support and resources by the coaches, mentors and subject matter experts, and where, upon completion of our studies, we can contribute to effective change in our communities back in our respective countries," said Janice.
"It was a privilege to be given this opportunity - to be able to interact with other Pacific Island women and share the leadership challenges that they face in all aspects of life," she explained.
In the long term, Janice would also like to take on financial and trade roles in areas traditionally dominated by men, such as trade analysis or international-level trade negotiation.