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She Leads: Empowering the next generation

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When you were a teenager, did you consider yourself a leader?

And more importantly, what did you think a ‘leader’ was? A CEO, an Executive Director, or the Prime Minister, probably.

This traditional definition of leadership is one that has seeped into our collective consciousness, and contributes in making the identity of a ‘leader’ inaccessible to many young people – especially young women.

The good news is, the times are definitely changing. As this year’s She Leads College Conference shows, a wealth of young women leaders in Canberra will be working to break down barriers to leadership for their peers.

Hosted by local not-for-profit YWCA Canberra, the She Leads College Conference is a one-day leadership experience for young women in years 11 and 12. The College Conference provides the opportunity to connect with role models, develop leadership identities, and explore potential pathways for the future through engaging talks and workshops.

This year, the Conference is bringing together seven young women who have been creating change and making a difference through a diverse range of initiatives, to engage with attendees and provide real-world examples of leadership that challenge the traditional notion we’ve grown accustomed to.


Amelia Telford, a young Aboriginal and South Sea Islander woman from Bundjalung country and National Co-Director of the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, will deliver the keynote address at the Conference. Amelia is an incredible young woman, who was awarded National NAIDOC Youth of Year in 2014, Bob Brown’s Young Environmentalist for the Year 2015 and Australian Geographic Young Conservationist of the Year 2015 for her commitment to building a more just and sustainable future for all young people.

Amelia’s work is driven around ‘supporting a national network of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to build a movement for climate justice to protect country and be a part of creating positive change’.

Through hearing about Amelia’s personal journey to leadership, young women attending the She Leads College Conference will be able to see a real-life example of someone breaking the stereotype of what a leader looks like – age, gender, and race all impact on our experiences of the world and act as significant barriers to traditional leadership roles.


Amelia Telford.


Joining the Conference for a special networking session are six amazing young Canberra women, showing what a fertile environment we have in the nation’s capital for fostering and supporting the development of young women leaders:

  • Emma Pocock has recently graduated from a Masters in International development with a focus on food sovereignty and women’s rights, and is using her knowledge and skills as a communicator to advocate on issues around gender equality, as well as developing an integrated community development project for a community in rural Zimbabwe.
  • Rachael Stevens was recently awarded ACT Young Woman of the Year 2016, and has been inspiring and supporting young people through her writing, talks and workshops for years. Rachael’s first book The Skeleton Diaries provides insight into mental illness and recovery – countless people have been inspired and impacted by Rachael’s book as it demonstrates there is hope in every situation.
  • Farz Edraki is a radio producer with 666 ABC Canberra and co-founder of rip publishing, leading a movement towards innovative and unique story-telling and independent publishing in Canberra.
  • Erica Hediger is a design and fabrication expert, who has specialised in rapid prototyping and small-scale manufacturing since 2014. Erica runs both the CBR Innovation Network’s Makers Space and her own business The Creative Element.
  • Caitlin Figueiredo is a Global Changemaker for Gender Equality, international speaker, entrepreneur, activist and student. Caitlin is currently the ACT Director for World Vision’s youth movement VGen, the Australian Ambassador for Global Resolutions, and is representing Australia as the 2016 UN Youth Assembly Strategic Advisor to the UN and UN Women on a number of Task-Forces.

A lack of diverse role models in leadership is one of the key drivers that impacts on how young women identify with their own roles in our community, and their ability to make a positive impact on others.

The She Leads College Conference provides evidence that there is no end to the potential of young women, and by connecting attendees to fellow women who have contributed to their chosen fields in such interesting and diverse ways, the Conference will inspire the next generation of women leaders.

The She Leads College Conference will take place on Tuesday 26 July. For more information, head to

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