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WISPA & Pasifika SiS Join Forces to Empower Emerging Leaders

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Women in Sport Aotearoa Ngā Wāhine Hākinakina o Aotearoa (WISPA) is proud to announce the launch of the Pacific Women’s Sports Leadership Programme, a collaborative effort between WISPA and Pasifika SiS. This transformative initiative made possible with the support of the U.S. Department of State and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, sees 10 emerging female sports leaders from our Pacific neighbours go on a journey of leadership, gender equity, and cross-cultural learning in the realm of sports and recreation.

The Pacific Women’s Sports Leadership Programme is the result of a collaboration between WISPA—a trailblazer in promoting gender parity in New Zealand sports—and Pasifika SiS—an innovative organisation focused on advancing sports growth across the Pacific region. The programme’s foundation draws inspiration from the globally acclaimed Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership. Dr. Sarah Leberman, MNZM, & Julie Paterson, co-founders of WISPA, recognised the potential of this framework embracing the opportunity to bring it to New Zealand and the Pacific. This dynamic framework forms the cornerstone of thetransformative Pacific Women’s Sports Leadership Programme.

The programme will provide 10 promising female leaders from Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga with access to mentorship opportunities as well as cultural exchange activities that will empower them to become effective agents for change within their home nations. The three-week programme consists of workshops focusing on leadership skills development followed by placements with host organisations for mentoring and networking sessions. At its conclusion, participants will be equipped with the skills necessary to create their own “change project” that will contribute positively towards their communities and countries.

WISPA Chief Executive Officer Nicky Van Den Bos said “We are thrilled to be launching this unique programme that focuses on developing leadership skills amongst women in sport from our beautiful Pacific neighbours.”  Candice Apelu-Mariner, Pasifika SIS Co-Chair added “This is an incredible opportunity for both WISPA and Pasifika SIS to collaborate on something truly special that can have a lasting impact on our region”.

The launch celebrates recent progress made for sports leadership in New Zealand; one where diversity is celebrated and nurtured at all levels. The programme also allows organisations based in New Zealand to gain greater understanding and knowledge of various cultures within our Pacific neighbours – ultimately bridging gaps between cultures through sport & recreation initiatives.


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