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Shaping tomorrow’s female leaders

Elsie Adamo

Canberran Ritu Clementi is creating the city’s first female leadership program tailored for senior high school students.

Through the YWCA’s Great Ydeas Grants Program, Ritu has established The Girls Leadership Network. Starting this month, Ritu says the network is designed to “empower girls to dream, believe, achieve – and reach their leadership potential.”

Previously, Ritu worked at a program for teenagers and leadership in the United States and found the program to be extremely successful, inspiring great results for the participants.

Upon moving overseas, Ritu realised such programs were lacking in Australia. “As I moved to Canberra, I realised there was nothing like this here,” she says.

Ritu herself was helped a young age to develop her leadership skills and found it indispensable once she entered the corporate world. It was this experience that inspired her to create a program in Canberra. “I just decided it was a good idea, and went for the grant, and here we are.”

“I just decided it was a good idea, and went for the grant, and here we are.”

Her passion about women in leadership comes from the imbalance of women in power we read about all the time.

“Women aren’t being paid properly,” Ritu explains. “[There aren’t] enough women in Government and not enough women on boards.” Ritu thinks that programs created to help solve these problems need to start at an earlier age, with adolescents “as that’s the age when confidence can start to falter and young girls may question their ability before they’ve even started.”

The program will be run by Ritu and her two co-creators; Wendy Marman and her daughter Asha. Wendy, a leadership consultant for John Maxwell, has written the modules’ content while Asha, 17, is a student and essentially the target audience of the course. She’s therefore been an integral helping hand when working on leadership activities.

As for the course itself, the Leadership Network will include five days of face to face contact over four months, where girls will be given the opportunity to hear about the experiences of women in leadership positions and participate in workshops, whilst maintaining contact over the duration of the course on Facebook. As Ritu says, “you can’t learn leadership in a day”.

The course is hoping to include a “wide cross-section of schools, backgrounds and cultures meant for any girl that wants to work in leadership.”

Ritu also stresses that you don’t need prior leadership experience. “It’s as much for the shy, unsure girls as the ones that already have leadership experience, all you need is the interest.” It will include five modules on a range of topics including leadership, being authentic, team situations, priorities and adversity. “It’s not just leading others, It’s about learning about yourself, what you do well and your values and boosting your confidence.”

The course covers five modules on a range of topics including leadership, being authentic, team situations, priorities and adversity.

“It’s not just leading others,” explains Ritu. “It’s about learning about yourself, what you do well, your values and boosting your confidence. We got the content we got the venue now we need to make sure we have the girls.”

If you want to be involved, or know a student who does, you can get more information from the Girls Leadership Network’s Facebook page, or by sending an email to thegirlsleadershipnetwork@gmail.com.

It will be running five sessions over four months. The first session is on 1 March and final session will be on 21 June. Find the registration form here. Registration closes on February 23. There will only be room for around 30 girls so get in quick to avoid disappointment.

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Elsie Adamo

Elsie originally hails from South Australia but after almost five years in the Capital likes to consider herself now as a local. A student at ANU she keeps herself busy on campus with student societies and now interning at HerCanberra. Her great loves include sitcoms, podcasts, bookstores, cider, brunch and online shopping. More about the Author

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