WELA was born out of the work of Dr Jane Elix as part of the Australian Research Council (ARC) study of women leaders and their role in the creation of a democratic society grandly titled Australian Women and Leadership in a Century of Australian Democracy.
The genesis of this inspirational program comes from the ‘chapter’ on women in the environment movement for which Jane Elix conducted a series of extraordinary interviews chasing down women, both visible and invisible to the public at large, to hear their stories.
After this ARC project was completed there was an amazing meeting of women environmentalists in Canberra in 2012 to report back and ask them for the ways forward. In 2013 a forum convened by the Australian Environmental Grantgivers Network catalysed the next phase by gaining philanthropic support to develop the ideas from Canberra into funding-ready projects. In the process, a number of active women environmentalists have been interviewed to help shape the program.
Many have never had any professional development or the money to afford a program like WELA. Many were moved by the concept of a leadership and mentorship program designed for them. WELA reflects their voices.
“The idea that we should simply ‘add women’ to leadership-as-usual – then ‘stir’- remains enormously appealing to many. … Rather, I have argued we need to keep our gaze firmly trained on the gendered societal and power structures that shape the very discourse of leadership itself ”
Amanda Sinclair, Not Just ‘Adding Women In’
WELA is organised by the Canberra-based Green Institute. Sue Lewis is the program Coordinator assisted by a small reference group. Holly Hammond will coordinate the WELA 2017 curriculum and lead the three retreats.
WELA is funded by participant fees and by fundraising. Donations to support WELA through the Green Institute are fully tax deductible and will help bring women environmentalists from all over Australia to WELA 2017.