Virtual Internship programmes for Indian women launched

Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Minister Priyanca Radhakrishnan speaking at the Conference with Education New Zealand General Manager International Lisa Futschek and New Zealand’s High Commissioner to India David Pine (Photo Supplied)

Venkat Raman
Auckland March 24, 2022

The New Zealand government is facilitating the award of 35 virtual internships and exchange programmes for Indian women as a part of its efforts to promote equal educational opportunities.

The programme includes ten Virtual Micro Internships offered by the University of Auckland and 25 Virtual Exchange Programme for High School girl students, earning them to qualify for the Global Competence Certificate.

In addition, a four-week virtual Immersion Programme for 16 women students from New Zealand universities will be conducted by Symbiosis International University. This Programme aims to strengthen cultural ties and enhanced learning experiences for students.

Education New Zealand announced the internships at an online conference held on March 15, 2002, marking International Women’s Day.

Titled, ‘Women of the Future,’ the Conference was attended, among others, by Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Minister Priyanca Radhakrishnan, New Zealand’s High Commissioner to India David Pine, University of Auckland Director International Ainslie Moore, Independent Director and Public Speaker Ziena Jalil, Podar Education Network President Swati Popat Vats, and Venkateswara College (University of New Delhi) Principal Professor Sheela Reddy.

Social Justice motivates

They discussed various issues under the common theme, ‘Leading with authenticity: Lifting the next generation of women.’

Ms Radhakrishnan, who came to New Zealand as an international student and progressed in her career to become a politician, Member of Parliament and a Minister of the Crown, said that social justice has been a motivating factor in her life.

“I worked for many years running a refuge organisation that supported women of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origin in New Zealand and a part of my role was to lobby successive governments for change in the family violence prevention space. My parents raised me to be politically aware, to think critically and to challenge the status quo,” she said.

Stating that she was always keen to be a part of a change that she advocates, Ms Radhakrishnan recounted an inspiring meeting that she had with a Cabinet Minister while serving in a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).

“When you are in that position where you can challenge stereotypes and you have got a platform to be able to do that to make sure you use it to continue to keep that ladder down for other women as well. We all have a role to play in terms of challenging stereotypes. One of the issues that often gets raised with me by ethnic minority communities here is employment – and more specifically, barriers to employment. I have been working on an employment action plan that aims to lift employment outcomes for people from these communities,” she said.

An inclusive society

Outlining the persisting challenges and barriers including the gender gap, Ms Radhakrishnan called on employers to understand and value diversity and take steps to become more inclusive.

“That means embedding diversity and inclusion in workplace practices. All of us have a role to play in various sectors to take collective action to address barriers to women’s participation,” she said.

Mr Pine quoted the findings of a McKinsey Global Institute Research saying that gender equality is key to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals and boosting economic growth, enhancing productivity, improving development outcomes for the next generation, and making institutions more representative.

Gender equality in India

“The opportunity in India seems to be enormous. McKinsey has estimated that if women’s participation were fully equal to that of men, the country’s GDP could rise by as much as 60%. That would mean an overall gain of almost US$3 trillion, which is more than $2000 per person. In New Zealand, we also have a long way to go. The same estimates done for New Zealand show a potential gain of 25%. It is hard to imagine another area of policy with so much untapped potential,” he said.

The virtual conference included inspiring stories of women achievers and leaders from New Zealand and India. It also included discussions on gender equality while providing a platform to mobilise resources to address equity and inclusion.

Malini Agarwal, an RJ-turned TV Presenter, industrialist and author, provided a glimpse of her journey, breaking social and other barriers.

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