To celebrate International Women's Day 2019, YAIA has put together a list of 'Young Women to Watch in International Affairs'. The aim of the list is to shine a spotlight on some of the young Australian women making a name for themselves in government, academia, think-tanks, the private sector and civil society across the broad horizon of international affairs - whether it be in foreign policy, national security, international aid and development, a particular bi-lateral relationship, cyber, defence, strategic issues or international trade. These often still remain male-dominated spaces, and we want to recognise and promote the next generation of young women achieving success in these areas.
After an internal and external research and consultation process, we are delighted to announce the finalists for this year's "Young Women to Watch in International Affairs List."
Aakriti Bachhawat is a researcher with the defence and strategy program at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. She focuses on India’s foreign policy and Indo-Pacific security, especially Indian and Australian perceptions on the Indo-Pacific. She began as a research intern at ASPI in 2018 and prior to that, worked as a research assistant at Griffith University for three years. She has written for prominent Australian publications such as The Strategist, The Interpreter, Australian Outlook and East Asia Forum and has also co-authored a peer-reviewed article on the Indo-Pacific. She writes fortnightly features for Griffith Asia Insights, covering the latest geopolitical developments in the region and their significance for Australia.
She was the book review editor of the Australian Journal of International Affairs for four years. She has previously interned with the national office of the Australian Institute of International Affairs and at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi. She holds a dual master’s degree in international relations and diplomacy from the Australian National University.
Additionally, she’s a mum to an active and engaging four-year old, who’s a major driving force behind all her efforts.
Bonnie Bley is a Research Fellow for the Asian Power and Diplomacy Program at the Lowy Institute.
Bonnie is one of the principal researchers behind the Lowy Institute Asia Power Index, a data-driven project launched by the Institute in 2018 and one of its flagship projects. The Asia Power Index is the largest comparative assessment of power in the region ever undertaken. It ranks 25 countries and territories in terms of their capacity to influence regional events, using 114 indicators across eight thematic measures of power: military capability and defence networks; economic resources and relationships; diplomatic and cultural influence; and resilience and future trends. Bonnie’s responsibilities include designing and revising the methodology of the Asia Power Index, datamining, analysis, and outreach.
Bonnie also leads the research for the Global Diplomacy Index, a digital project which maps, ranks and compares the diplomatic networks of 60 countries.
She started her career at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London, where she supported research and editing for The Military Balance and the Armed Conflict Database, among other content. She was also responsible for outreach and social media at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Bonnie studied at University College London (UCL) and the University of Bologna.
Dr Elizabeth Buchanan is Project Manager for the EU Commission Jean Monnet Research initiatives at the Australian National University’s Centre for European Studies. Dr Buchanan’s areas of research are polar geopolitics and energy security, with a focus on Russian foreign energy strategy.
Dr Buchanan completed her PhD on Russian Arctic strategy under Vladimir Putin in 2018 and holds an Honours degree in Russian-Ukrainian natural gas relations. Dr Buchanan was recently a Visiting Maritime Fellow at NATO’s Defence College where she examined High North security matters. Elizabeth has published widely on Russia and international security issues with Foreign Affairs, The Lowy Institute, The Australian Institute for International Affairs, The Moscow Times, Policy Forum and The Australian. Dr Buchanan has been a Visiting Scholar with The Brookings Institution’s Foreign Policy unit and has commercial experience in the private oil sector.
Dr Buchanan is an Assistant Course Convenor with the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) and was a 2018 Australian Institute of International Affairs Early Career Research awardee. Dr Buchanan is the President of the Australian Chapter of Women in International Security (WIIS) and is a Managing Editor for Security Challenges - Australia’s sole academic journal for future security challenges.
With over eight years domestic and international experience, Niamh is the Manager for Corporate Security and Intelligence at Scentre Group (Owner and Operator of Westfield in Aus and NZ). In leading the company’s Intelligence function, she manages programmes of work and provides subject matter expertise on areas related to terrorism, cyber security, fraud and corruption, organised/serious crime and geopolitics, among others. She was recognised as a top three finalist for Scentre Group’s Safety Hero award, for performance in and dedication to her role.
Previously, Niamh was based in Washington, DC where she led the analytical and research support function for an intelligence advisory company. She specialised in high risk travel assessments, analytical industry and regional reporting, intellectual property protection and government relations consultancy.
Niamh has provided research support at the Lowy Institute and USYD’s Centre for International Security Studies. She holds a Master’s degree (International Security) and a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies (Government and International Relations), both from the University of Sydney. She sits on the Young Leaders Committee of the global philanthropy, Ireland Funds Australia.
Arriving in Australia by way of Ethiopia, Yasmin has always had a keen interest in politics and international relations. Raised on a healthy diet of politics and critical analysis, Yasmin completed a Bachelor of Arts (Global); a Post Graduate Diploma in European and International Studies, and a Master of Arts (by Research) at Monash University; as well as a Master of Diplomacy at the Australian National University (ANU). Yasmin is currently pursuing a PhD at the ANU that grapples with the role, impact and relationship of foreign aid and terrorism in the Horn of Africa.
As an aspiring academic, much of Yasmin's professional and volunteer work has centred addressing the aid-security nexus and the implications this has on aid and security discourse and practice. The absence of African voices, particularly African women's voices, presents a significant challenge that if not acknowledged and addressed has inadvertent consequences for inter and intra Africa relations.
My commitment to this area is largely centred on ensuring that young people, as the inheritors of discourse and practice, and consequently burdened by it, are brought along the journey to finding solutions and disruptions to counter-productive and counter-factual discourses and policies.
Zoe Hawkins is a digital policy professional, specialising in the impact of technology on foreign, economic and security policy. A think tanker at heart, Zoe began her career at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute's International Cyber Policy Centre. Here she researched, published and spoke on issues including Indo-Pacific technological developments, cyber deterrence, national cyber strategy, and electoral interference. Zoe explored academic work at the University of Sydney’s Centre for International Security Studies where she researched the impact of quantum technologies on international security policy.
Zoe put her research background to practise when she joined the newly established cyber affairs team at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Zoe was part of the team that wrote Australia’s first International Cyber Engagement Strategy, addressing issues from digital trade and cybercrime, to cyber conflict and technology for development. Zoe managed regional cyber capacity building projects, spoke at international conferences and represented Australia’s online foreign policy to government, private sector and NGO representatives around the world.
As the Innovation Adviser to the Federal Minister to Jobs and Innovation, Zoe oversaw the drafting of Australia’s new Digital Economy Strategy. She managed Australia’s international industry policy relationships, including the implementation of the Global Innovation Strategy. Now, Zoe is considering the role of technology in the future of business and work in Australia as the Digital Policy Adviser to the Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education.
Natasha Kassam is a Research Fellow in the Diplomacy and Public Opinion Program at the Lowy Institute, directing the annual Lowy Institute Poll. Natasha’s other research interests include Australia’s relations with Asia and the Pacific, China’s domestic politics and Australia’s diplomatic infrastructure.
Prior to joining the Lowy Institute, Natasha was a career foreign service officer at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade developing Australia’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. She was on the whole-of-government Taskforce that drafted Australia’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.
Natasha served overseas in China at the Australian Embassy in Beijing from 2013 to 2017, where she covered human rights, law reform, domestic politics, Xinjiang and Tibet. Natasha was also a law and justice advisor to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in Honiara from 2011 to 2012. Natasha has also previously worked at the Sydney Centre for International Law and Clayton Utz.
Natasha holds a first class honours degree in law and international studies from the University of Sydney and speaks Mandarin. She is married with two children.
Jacinta Keast will commence as a Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University in August 2019, where she plans to study the impact of US-China relations on the Australia-China relationship.
As an undergraduate, she worked at China Matters, an Australian public policy initiative that brought together Australian government policy-makers, CEOs and politicians to improve Australia-China relations. Her reporting and international affairs analysis has appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, ChinaFile, East Asia Forum and The Diplomat and has been syndicated in SupChina, Bill Bishop’s Sinocism Newsletter, the Mercator Institute for China Studies’ Blog, the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program, and Australian Foreign Affairs Weekly.
She is the youngest member of the Young China Watchers’ Global Editorial Team and was the 2017 Young Australians in International Affairs’ China Fellow.
She speaks Mandarin Chinese and Japanese, and is a Westpac Bicentennial Foundation Scholar.
Natalie Kyriacou OAM is the Founder and CEO of My Green World, the Creator of World of the Wild mobile game app, and the Australian Director of Sri Lankan-based NGO, Dogstar Foundation. She is aForbes 30 Under 30 honouree, a recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia and a Probono Impact 25 Award Recipient.
For over ten years, Natalie has been driving positive change worldwide; creating inclusive youth education programs and technologies that increase access to wildlife and environmental conservation and sciences. Her approach has been to spark curiosity among young people by creating entertaining learning technologies that are accessible to all. Natalie is particularly passionate about ensuring access to education, increasing female participation in science and empowering the next generation of young people to participate in global wildlife and environmental conservation. Natalie has enjoyed a diverse and fascinating career, from engaging with key government and corporate figures, including hosting the Chinese government in 2017 to providing policy recommendations to the Australian government which was included in the 2017 Australian Foreign Policy White Paper.
Natalie has represented Australian on a global stage, advocating for wildlife and the environment, young people, education, increased female representation in STEMM and greater diversity and inclusion across corporate and government sectors.
Jane is Manager of a small team that supports the development of organisations, communities and people across East Asia and the Pacific using cricket as a vehicle for social and behavioural change. Since joining the team in 2013 as the first female to be appointed to a cricket specific role for the ICC’s Global Development Program, Jane progressed to Development Manager for the region working across nine countries. She has also worked in the public service, private sector and as a volunteer in Australia and overseas.
Jane has led on sport for development and sports diplomacy programs for cricket for more than five years and was the face of sports diplomacy in the Australian Government’s 2018 White Paper. In 2016, Jane led the design and delivery of the first Pacific Women’s Sports Leadership Program which ran again in 2018. Inspired by opportunities she had received, Jane recognised the need for the same opportunity for Pacific women. The Program saw 20 women from the Pacific come together for a week of professional development, networking and learning which many of the participants described as transformational and life changing. The Program will form an integral part of the Australian’ Government’s future sport for development programs.
Katherine Mansted is a policy analyst with a focus on national security, law and technology. Currently, she is a senior adviser at the ANU National Security College, and a non-resident fellow at the Harvard Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs. She also co-hosts the National Security Podcast on PoilicyForum.net.
Katherine’s current research focus is the impact of the information revolution on traditional systems—including democracy, national power, and international relations. Her publications cover foreign interference, cyber and information operations and internet privacy, and she has also written for The Sydney Morning Herald, ASPI Strategist, and Lowy Interpreter.
Previously, Katherine practiced law as a commercial solicitor in Sydney with King & Wood Mallesons, was a judge’s associate at the High Court of Australia, and served as a ministerial adviser to the federal government. In 2016, she received a John Monash scholarship to support her postgraduate studies at Harvard University. While in America, she was President of the Harvard “Future Society,” and a research assistant with the Belfer Center Cybersecurity Project.
Katherine holds a Master of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours and a Bachelor of International Relations from Bond University.
Dr. Alexandra Phelan is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Monash University's Gender, Peace and Security Centre. Her PhD dissertation examined why the Colombian government alternated between counterinsurgency and negotiation with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Based on an extensive examination of negotiation documents and primary FARC material, fieldwork and interviews with former and active FARC, ELN, M-19 and AUC members, she examined the role that insurgent legitimation activities had on influencing Colombian government response between 1982-2016. Dr. Phelan is also currently working on the Colombian case study for the Monash GPS, ARC project "Towards Inclusive Peace: Mapping Gender Provisions in Peace Agreements", which seeks to understand the role that gender provisions in peace agreements play in shaping women's participation in conflict affected sites.
She focuses on the 2016 Peace Agreement with FARC's gender provisions, their ongoing implementation, and their impact on women's participation.
She also currently serves on the editorial board for the journal, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. Dr. Phelan is a passionate advocate for bringing Latin American security issues to the forefront of the Australian research agenda in security, conflict and peace studies- a region that is often over-looked, but due to its complex and dynamic nature, also provides important lessons-learned to inform policy debate.
Yasmin is the 2018 Chair of the Victorian Government’s Youth Congress, the inaugural youth advisory board representing over 1 million young Victorians.
Yasmin is passionate about improving youth engagement across government. She was nominated as an Ambassador for Plan International and the World Bank last year, alongside publishing a Fairfax article discussing why young women are disillusioned from politics. As a result of this work, Yasmin was a panellist on ABC’s TV program ‘Q&A’, which has an average viewership of 1 million.
She most recently represented Australia at the 2018 APEC Conference in Papua New Guinea. She has a keen interest in foreign affairs, having been involved in organisations like Equality Rights Alliance, Asialink and the Asia Pacific Centre for R2P. This included writing gender policy recommendations to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
She is also involved in consulting as the current Director of Global Business Development for 180 Degrees Consulting, the largest youth consultancy in the world. As a result of this work, Yasmin was awarded the C.A.S Hawker Scholarship which is described as Australia’s ‘Rhodes’ for undergraduates. She was also recognised through the Zonta International Jane M Klausman Women in Business Award, Victorian Government Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader Award and a semi finalist in the Victorian Young Achiever Awards for leadership.
As of 2019, Yasmin is the youngest member of the Red Cross ACT International Humanitarian Law Committee and Vice President of the ANU International Law Society.
Yasmin is 20 years old and studying Law and International Relations at the Australian National University.
Sophie Qin is a Policy Graduate at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where she has worked on advancing Foreign Policy White Paper objectives in Southeast Asia, Australia’s engagement with the WTO and DFAT’s women, diversity and inclusion agendas.
Prior to DFAT, Sophie was a Research Intern at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute where she published on China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Southeast Asia. She has also worked on countering violent extremism programs at the Australian Multicultural Foundation and interned at the Australian Institute of International Affairs National Office. A proud Young Australians in International Affairs alumni, Sophie was Publications Director from 2016 to 2017 and Indo-Pacific Fellow in 2015.
Sophie holds a Master of International Relations with First Class Honours from the University of Melbourne, during which she studied abroad at Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta and the University of London. In 2017 she spent a semester studying Indonesian full-time at Universitas Indonesia as a Victorian Government Hamer Scholar.
Sophie is passionate about Australia’s relationships in the Indo-Pacific, particularly with China, Indonesia and Southeast Asia more broadly. She looks forward to broadening her knowledge of the Pacific and South Asia, deepening her experience in the region and continuing to drive Australia’s engagement with the Indo-Pacific.
Jette Radley is the Associate Director, Programs at Asia Society Australia. She joined the organisation in May 2016 and is responsible for the strategy, communication and delivery of Asia Society Australia’s programming nationally.Curating events and content that drive a deeper understanding of Asia in Australia, connect Australians to the region’s leaders and enrich public debate about Asia is at the heart of Jette’s work.
She is passionate about connecting and developing the next generation of Asia-focused leaders and is driving the establishment of GEN A, Asia Society Australia's young leadership network. From 2014-2016 Jette was the Executive Officer at the Australia China Business Council, where she worked directly with the National and NSW CEO’s to promote two-way trade and investment, and economic cooperation and understanding, between the business communities of Australia and China. During her time at ACBC she witnessed the historic China-Australia FTA come into force and played an instrumental role in coordinating the business participation in key bilateral visits from city, state and national governments.
A graduate of the University of Technology, Sydney, Jette has a double degree in Communications (Social Inquiry) and in International Studies (Chinese language and Culture). Her studies focused on policy and advocacy, media, and the politics of climate change. At UTS, she was a founding member of the Australia China Youth Association (ACYA), University of Technology Sydney Chapter and was awarded an Australian Government Discover China Scholarship. From 2012-2013, Jette studied Chinese language at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.
In her free time, Jette plays with and manages the Women’s division at Easts FC and is a member of Bondi Girls Surfriders. You can connect with Jette on twitter @jetteradley or linkedin.
Primrose Riordan is a reporter with The Australian at Parliament House in Canberra, covering foreign affairs, national security and trade. She has previously been a reporter at The Australian Financial Review and The Canberra Times.
In 2017 Primrose won the Wallace Brown Award, given to the top young journalist in the press gallery, and she was a runner up for the same award in 2016. In 2017 Primrose was a Young Walkley Award nominee.
Prior to working in Canberra she worked at a China Radio International in Beijing.
Alexie Seller is the CEO and cofounder of Pollinate Energy. Having always had a passion for low-carbon energy, Alexie Sell graduated from Mechanical Engineering where she focussed on renewable energy. In her early career she held roles in technology and engineering, whilst volunteering in community and international development. One of these roles was the Energy Hub Coordinator for Engineers Without Borders in 2012, which sparked her passion for improving energy access in the developing world and led her to co-found Pollinate Energy with five other Australians in their mid 20s.
Alexie has gone on to grow this organisation to positively impact over half a million people living on less than $1.50 a day, and generate over $1 million in revenue a year. The model is also sustainable and has hit break even in Bangalore, India and Kailali, Nepal and is on the road to achieving the same in six other cities/districts by 2021. Pollinate empowers women and communities to access life-improving products in the world’s poorest communities. They identify, train and develop local women in these communities to distribute a range of life-improving products to their peers. These women earn respect and meaningful income, and act as role models who raise awareness about better alternatives (such as using solar lanterns to replace kerosene).
In 2018 Alexie led a first-of-its-kind merger with US-Nepal based social enterprise Empower Generation to expand into Nepal and enhance Pollinate's capabilities to develop women as community leaders. Next Billion recently published her article on the merger process which you can read here.
Alexie won the Advance Social Impact Award in 2018 and EY Social Entrepreneur of the Year in Victoria in 2017.
Hannah is a Researcher working with the International Cyber Policy Centre based At the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. She is also a Researcher with the National Security College at the Australian National University. Her research interests include Cybersecurity in the Asia Pacific; Counter terrorism in Cyberspace; Cyber-crime and the Dark web; Australian cyber policy and emerging cyber and defence capabilities.
Prior to joining ASPI Hannah was an Academic Staff member at Macquarie University, where she specialised in Cybersecurity and Indo-Pacific Security.
Hannah holds a double Masters degree in Policing, Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism specialising in Cybersecurity and International Security Studies from Macquarie University, and a Bachelor degree in International Relations and Development Studies from the University of New South Wales.
Monique Stallman is a policy officer in the Australian Public Service. Until December 2018, she held the role of Speechwriter at the Embassy of the United States in Canberra, writing for the Chief of Mission and senior diplomats on the US-Australia bilateral relationship and strategic regional policy.
Monique has previously held positions in speechwriting and strategic policy and planning at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
She has a Bachelor of Psychological Science and a Master of Arts (Writing, Editing and Publishing) from The University of Queensland.
Elise Stephenson is a 27 year old social entrepreneur and PhD Candidate from the School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University. Her PhD works with Australia’s core diplomacy and security agencies to understand women in foreign policy – accounting for the experiences and influence of women leaders across the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Defence, Department of Home Affairs, and Australian Federal Police.
Her research has taken her to the USA, Sweden, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam to conduct on-ground research and collaborate with foreign policy experts. Her drive to work in international relations spaces was spurred from her experiences as an inaugural New Colombo Plan Scholar, where she represented Australia in Hong Kong conducting research on women’s leadership, and her earlier international development work through Taiwan, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Laos, Morocco, Spain, and Turkey.
Elise is recognised by a United Nations Australia Association QLD Community Award, and is now an Australian representative on the Commonwealth Youth Gender Equality Network, the Queensland State Government LGBTI Roundtable, and the Roundtable on LGBTI Human Rights in the Asia and the Pacific.
Elise also convenes an annual international human rights festival in Hong Kong.
Dr Bec Strating is the Director of the Bachelor of International Relations and a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations in the Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy at La Trobe University.
She primarily researches and teaches in the politics and international relations of Australia and Asia. In 2018, she was awarded the prestigious Boyer Prize by the Australian Institute of International Affairs for best article published in the Australian Journal of International Affairs in 2017.
She has published two monographs and scholarly articles in journals such as Australian Journal of Politics and History, Asian Security, Journal of Pacific History, and Contemporary Southeast Asia. She regularly contributes to public debates about politics and foreign policy, publishing in policy forums such as Broad Agenda, Lowy Interpreter, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative and Australian Strategic Policy Initiative.
She has provided expert comment for global and Australian media organisations including the ABC, The Age and Reuters, and in 2017, she was invited to testify as an expert witness in Australian parliament. Along with Dr Jasmine Westendorf, Dr Strating is co-convening a Women in Australian International Affairs workshop in June 2019, which aims to develop new networks between early- and mid-career women researchers in Australia and showcase our research through publication.
Elise Thomas is a freelance journalist and a researcher with the International Cyber Policy Centre at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
Her interests include the intersection of cybersecurity and geopolitics; cryptocurrencies and cybercrime; the implications of new technologies for human rights and the social and political impacts of big data collection and algorithmic governance. Her work has been featured in Guardian Australia, Wired, ABC Online, SBS’s The Feed, Crikey and others.
She has previously worked for the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on the ReliefWeb humanitarian information platform. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from ANU and a Master in International Affairs from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.
Simone van Nieuwenhuizen
Simone van Nieuwenhuizen is currently Senior Project Officer, China & East Asia at the NSW Department of Industry.She has previously held project and research roles at the University of Technology Sydney, University of Sydney, Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, and Lowy Institute for International Policy.
Simone is an avid learner of languages; she speaks Mandarin Chinese and Arabic, and is studying Russian. She lived in Beijing for three years, completing her Masters in International Relations (Diplomacy) at Peking University - a degree conducted entirely in Chinese.
Simone has written widely on Chinese politics and foreign policy. She is co-author of the book China and the New Maoists (Zed Books, 2016) with Kerry Brown. She has published an academic journal article in the Australian Journal of International Affairs, and her commentary has appeared in The Australian Financial Review, World Politics Review, The Diplomat and Lowy Interpreter, among others.
Erin Watson-Lynn is the Head of Programs at Perth USAsia Centre, based at the University of Western Australia, where she oversees the Centre’s Indo-Pacific regional focus programs, the Australia-Indo-Pacific-US relations program, and education and outreach.
Erin joined the Perth USAsia Centre from Asialink at the University of Melbourne, where she was the Director of Diplomacy. Previously Erin worked as a lecturer and a research assistant at Monash University over a 7 year period during which time she interned with United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia Pacific in New Delhi.
Erin commenced her professional career as a labour market analyst at Swinburne University of Technology. Since 2015 Erin has represented Australia at Track II G20 meetings in Turkey, China, Argentina, and Japan. Erin has presented her work and participated as a delegate at Track II meetings across Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Middle East, and is alumnus of the State Department’s prestigious International Visitor Leadership Program. Most recently Erin travelled to the Syrian border in Joran and Lebanon on Save the Children’s Aid and Parliamentary Program.