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Pacific Women’s Leadership Programme to empower emerging female leaders in the Pacific Islands

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  • Women in Sport Aoteaora launch pilot leadership programme for Pacific Women with Pasifika SiS Sisters in Sport
  • Designed for emerging female leaders residing in Fiji, Samoa, Cook Islands and Tonga.
  • The programme is based on the Global Sports Mentoring Program and will run from Monday 21 August to Friday 8 September 2023 in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland, Aotearoa. 

Women in Sport Aotearoa Ngā Wāhine Hākinakina o Aotearoa is thrilled to launch the pilot of its Pacific Women’s Sports Leadership Programme in partnership with Pasifika SIS Sisters in Sport. The programme is designed to empower emerging female leaders from Fiji, Samoa, Cook Islands, and Tonga in sport, physical activity, dance, and traditional physical activities through mentorship and cultural exchange. The programme, based on the Global Sports Mentoring Program, will run from Monday 21 August to Friday 8 September 2023, in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland, New Zealand.

The programme includes a residential week with WISPA and Pasifika SiS focusing on leadership development, followed by two weeks of mentorship with host organisations. During this period, participants will immerse themselves in their work culture and programmes, developing a project to implement in their home country. Before returning home, all participants will spend a final day together, sharing their learning and action plans.

“We are delighted to be able to bring this pilot programme together through the support of our funding partners and in collaboration with Pasifika SiS to deliver this very special opportunity. This programme is a chance to both support and learn from our Pacific female leaders which will continue to evolve WISPA’s future advocacy and programmes here in Aotearoa. Delivering this new initiative in 2023 builds on the positive momentum generated by the First Nations Workshop, which our rōpū He Wāhine Toa Kei Te Kokiri hosted at Ōrākei Marae during the IWG World Conference,” said Nicky van den Bos, WISPA Acting Chief Executive. 

WISPA also recognises Co-Founder Julie Paterson, a past participant of the Global Sports Mentoring Program, for her connection to the programme and advocacy for women’s leadership in sports. Her success as a mentee and her continued work to empower women and girls in sports have paved the way for this opportunity to emerge.

Candice Apelu-Mariner, Pasifika SiS Co-Chair, said, “Empower a woman in sports, and you empower a community. Empower a community, and you empower a nation: Moya Dodd, former Australian Football player and women empowerment advocate.”

“The Pacific Women in Sports Leadership pilot programme will undoubtedly provide a transformative experience for our emerging and aspiring women leaders from the Pacific. This programme marks the beginning of an exciting journey towards personal growth and development and sets the stage for participants to expand their knowledge, skills, network and refine their vision for the future. Pasifika SiS is proud to be working alongside WISPA to support and provide this exciting opportunity for our Pacific-based women.”  

“By nurturing and empowering these emerging leaders, the pilot programme seeks to drive positive change, promote gender equality, and inspire a new generation of Pacific women to break barriers, shatter stereotypes, and become catalysts for progress in both the sports arena and society at large.”

Applications for the programme are open until 4 June 2023. It is open to all female leaders residing in Fiji, Samoa, Cook Islands, or Tonga who have a passion for girls and women and have already worked or volunteered in this space for at least five years. Thanks to the investment and support of the US State Department and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the programme will provide 10 women with the opportunity to travel to Aotearoa for mentorship and cultural knowledge exchange. 

WISPA and Pasifika SiS proudly offer this mentorship and cultural exchange programme, empowering emerging female leaders to make positive changes in their communities. If you are interested in hosting an organisation for this programme, please email Acting Chief Executive Nicky van den Bos at

Learn more about the programme and apply today: 


The Pacific Women’s Leadership Programme is based on the Global Sports Mentoring programme, which is run by the US Department of State’s Sports Diplomacy division. This flagship initiative uses sports as a vehicle to empower women and girls around the world by pairing emerging leaders with female executives from leading organisations in the sports sector. The programme’s goal is to provide mentorship and networking opportunities, which can lead to increased opportunities for women and girls in sports. The Pacific Women’s Sports Leadership Programme will draw upon the Global Sports Mentoring program’s best practices and resources to empower emerging female leaders from Fiji, Samoa, Cook Islands, and Tonga.

Women in Sport Aotearoa Ngā Wāhine Hākinakina o Aotearoa

Women in Sport Aotearoa (WISPA) is a charity that exists to transform society through leadership, advocacy and research, ensuring that all women and girls gain equity of opportunity to participate, compete and build careers in play, active recreation and sport in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Pasifika SiS Sisters in Sport

Pasifika Sisters in Sport (SiS) is a newly established (Sep 2022), and culturally driven collective. The organisational vision is to establish a leadership network of Pacific women and girls in sport to elevate, inspire, advocate and create equal opportunities at all levels and holistic development outcomes in Aotearoa and Oceania. Pasifika SiS recognised that Pasifika women and girls have had an immense contribution to the Aotearoa sporting landscape over the years.

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