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Proving why girls matter

28 August 2014

IGWL Launch Medium

Pictured at the IGWL launch: Jan Owen AM, CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians and IGWL Advisory Board, Deanne Weir, Media entrepreneur and philanthropist who launched IGWL, special guest CEO of G(irls)20 Farah Mohamed and IGWL co-founders Rosie O'Halloran and Rachel Taylor.

Like all good ideas, in behind Rosie O’Halloran’s (pictured above) drive to create a social purpose business – the Institute for Global Women Leaders - and bring about social change, lies a story.

Rosie’s story begins in Africa with a young Ugandan girl, who became a friend, and whose treatment at the hands of the male establishment drove home to Rosie the iniquitous nature of the world. It made her want to make a difference.

Rosie, who had raised funds to get her young Ugandan friend expert medical treatment in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, when she fell ill, remembers being at the hospital and hearing the doctor tell her friend and her mother: “You are just a girl from a village. You don’t matter.”

He then sent her home, where she died some weeks later. She was 16 years old.

“Many young women feel disempowered. They struggle to understand who they are in the world and their sense of self-worth is battered by situations like those my friend experienced,” says Rosie. 

“The fact that the doctor could say to my friend that because she was a girl she didn’t matter, made me frustrated.”

Search the letters I, G, W, L, on the ‘Interweb’ (the new term for the Internet and world wide web combined) and depending where you place the letter ‘I’ - first or last - two interesting and not unrelated sites will pop up.

IGWL gives you the Institute for Global Women Leaders, a social enterprise whose mission is to support, network and empower young women in Australia and from around the world as agents of social change.

GWLI gives you the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative a US platform for change - connecting current and emerging leaders, raising the profile of critical issues, advancing inclusive policies, and bringing new research to the forefront.

IGWL is the initiative of two young Australian women.

GWLI is an American initiative that’s captured the attention of Hillary Clinton.

IGWL is designing and delivering fee for service and scholarship funded global leader and development programs for young women. It is also investing in undertaking high-level research into the leadership practices of young women running social change and social purpose organisations globally, both to fill a gap in the academic research and literature as well as inform the organisation around how it will plan, structure and deliver its programs.

Launched by Rosie O’Halloran and her business partner Rachel Taylor, IGWL is determined to tap into the Third Billion – the women of the world and their mostly untapped potential being ignored by the governments of 128 countries and counting. Rosie, who is IGWL’s Director of Programs, funded the launch of the Institute with a $10,000 cash prize awarded her as an Audi Instyle Women of Style winner in 2012.

GWLI, on the other hand, is an initiative of The Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars and is striving to inspire a new generation of women leaders to realise the goal of at least 50 percent women in positions of political, public, and civic leadership by 2050.

Whatever way you juggle the letters, the impetus behind each initiative has similar roots.

As Jan Owen, Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence winner and CEO of FYA, put it at the IGWL launch: “We talk about the deficits around women: what they don’t have and the missing opportunities, and those deficits are very real. However, we should also remember to focus on the incredible untapped potential. Women – a lot of them - are leading businesses, creating opportunities and prosperity. It is phenomenal.”

“I am committed to addressing the issue on a global and local level through our IGWL programs and research agenda. The Institute will create the evidence base that young woman matter and that innovative leadership styles exist,” finishes Rosie.

IGWL has met some major milestones recently, including having its first personal leadership development program for senior school girls accepted to begin in 2015.

Rosie is calling for support both financial and in kind to get IGWL’s programs up and running and can be contacted at



  • Denise Hall

    Denise Hall 7 years ago

    What a great initiative! If you see my skills and capabilities being of use to the sisterhood, then I would love to be involved. Find out more about me at I'll also go to the site and see what I can do. cheers Denise