Described as the “first conference to focus on international women studying in Victoria”, the upcoming Future Female conference is set to be the kind of event that will create many firsts. Organiser Belle Lim and panellist Ruwangi Fernando talk to us about what they hope to achieve.

Belle Lim

Belle Lim sits on the executive committee of Council of International Students Australia (CISA). She is currently completing a PhD in cancer research at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Monash University.

Ruwangi Fernando

Ruwangi Fernando  is currently a PhD research student investigating the impact of planned special events on urban congestion at Victoria University’s Institute for Sustainable Industries & Liveable Cities where she is also a sessional academic. Ruwangi started the group STEM Sisters at the university.

The event is described as the “first conference to focus on international women studying in Victoria”. Can you tell us more about this significance?

BELLE: Future Female was inspired by the original version started in Helsinki, Finland, which aimed to “bring more women into the limelight as role models as well as bring up role models of the future”.

Our version shares those goals. Against the backdrop of Victoria, home to many women who have travelled here from different corners of the world, we adapted the event to focus on international women. Our hope is that Future Female will build on and generate greater momentum for the empowerment of women from diverse backgrounds.

Having this conference organised by international women for women, and with outstanding female speakers, provides a platform to showcase achievements of women from diverse backgrounds, and a space for their voices and lived experiences.

For many students, their priority is to achieve good grades. However, as young people, they are an important part of the future – they are the future. This conference is undoubtedly important for them. What can we say to them?

RUWANGI: It is crucial to interrupt a routine occasionally, whether you are an accomplished professional or a student. This can generate new perspectives and enable a person to have a wider, deeper understanding of the whole picture.

Becoming a leader, dealing with gender bias at work and how to stay resilient in the face of challenges are not what you can learn by reading manuals. Listening to the Future Female conference speakers, speaking with others then, can help you challenge your perspective, better understand your strengths and weaknesses, and focus your passion.

There is nothing like being in a room with like-minded women who all want to better themselves.

Future Female will be held on 13 September 2019 at the Arts Centre Pavilion, Melbourne. To buy tickets, visit the Future Female website.

Organised by CISA and supported by Study Melbourne