2021 Young Women to Watch in International Affairs



In celebration of this year's International Women's Day, Young Australians in International Affairs is delighted to announce our list of Young Women to Watch in International Affairs for 2021.


The list seeks to shine a spotlight on 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 bilateral relationship, cyber, defence, strategic issues or international trade. These often remain male-dominated fields, and YAIA wants to recognise, celebrate and promote the next generation of women achieving success and making an impact in these areas.


With the huge success of our lists in 2019 and 2020, our annual list is back for 2021! After receiving more nominations than ever, and a challenging and competitive shortlisting process, we are delighted to announce this year's list of Young Women to Watch in International Affairs.




Hiba Abd El Hamed

Hiba is the Special Assistant to the Head of the United Nations Development Programme in Afghanistan (UNDP) – the largest office in its global portfolio, with a budget of more than USD$470 million and over 400 national and international personnel. Hiba supports the strategic direction of the office through the provision of advisory, analytical, coordination and quality assurance support. This includes support to UNDP’s priorities through engagement with key stakeholders including the Office of the Special Representative to the Secretary-General, government, donors – including Australia and multilateral agencies. Key achievements have included the preparation of the UNDP statement to the Plenary Meeting of the Afghan National Army Trust Fund Board in Brussels.


As a Policy Adviser at the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Hiba's role focused on the intersections between health equity, human rights and gender - from a social policy and systems reform perspective. Prior to this role, she interned at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan. She led and supported the coordination of the first UN Civil-Military training programme in partnership with the Sudanese Armed Forces. She also supported the development, curriculum integration and delivery of a seven-part professional development program for Victoria Police as a management consultant.


A proud Sudanese-Australian, she has been recognized for her extensive work in community development, including as a Nominee for Australian of the Year (2017), Young Achiever for Rotary International - Melbourne Chapter (2020) and as a Finalist for the Victorian Young Achievers Award (2017). She has a Bachelor of International Studies, a Master of International Development and a Graduate Certificate in Public Health.




Zahra Al Hilaly

Zahra Al Hilaly is a 20-year-old Law and Journalism student at Murdoch University. Her work is centred upon creating inclusive intersectional change for women of colour within decision-making levels.


Zahra currently represents Australia on the United Nations Generation Equality Youth Task Force, sits on the YWCA Australia Young Women’s Council, is a MYAN Australia State Ambassador and represents Western Australian Youth as the Western Australia Youth Ambassador.


Zahra has represented Australia at multiple global meetings including the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the Asia-Pacific Beijing+25 Review and the International Youth Meeting.


As a first-generation Australian, Zahra has worked within policy to emphasise the voices of young migrant and refugee youth within policy. In 2020 she worked to establish the Western Australia COVID-19 Recovery Framework, the first youth-focused COVID-19 policy paper that consulted with underrepresented constituencies including migrant and refugee youth. Zahra has further worked within international policy, contributing to multiple United Nations reports, including the Beijing +25 Youth Report, that consulted with thousands of young people internationally about the global progress made for young women and girls.


As a result of her work, Zahra has been named a United Nations leader for Gender Equality, was recently a finalist for Young Australian Muslim of the Year and was selected as a global candidate for the World YWCA Global Women’s Leadership Cohort.




Rosanna Anderson

Rosanna Anderson is a PhD candidate and researcher at Tilburg University as part of the Constitutionalizing in the Anthropocene project. Her research is in the field of International Environmental law, with a focus on human rights and climate change litigation. The basis of the work is examining how legal systems may evolve to respond to the climate crisis, particularly in relation to human rights in the European Union.


After working in South Australia in public policy and anti-corruption for two years, Rosanna moved to Finland in 2018 to start her Masters in International and Comparative Law, majoring in Environmental and Climate Change Law and Policy. During her studies at the University of Eastern Finland, she interned for six months at the United Nations Environment Programme, New York office as part of the Inter-Agency Affairs team.


After graduating, Rosanna completed an eight month internship with the Office of the General Counsel at the Green Climate Fund in Incheon, South Korea. During this period, she co-authored an academic paper on GCF’s legal framework for resource mobilisation for forthcoming publication in the AIIB Yearbook of International Law. Rosanna also holds a Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Adelaide.




Laura Burr

Laura has worked across various national security and technology public policy roles, with subject-matter expertise in China's innovation ecosystem. Laura currently works on these issues as an Assistant Director in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Previously, she was at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet covering critical technologies and critical minerals.


Laura has a Masters in National Security Policy from the Australian National University. Under the New Colombo Plan Scholarship, Laura completed an international placement at the Bhutan Office of the Attorney General and the ANU Southeast Asian Frontiers Program in Thailand and Myanmar. She was one of ANU's International Alliance of Research Universities Global Summer Scholars to Peking University in Beijing.


Having been involved in various community volunteering initiatives over the past decade, Laura was selected as part of the Australian delegation to the United Nations' 63rd Commission on the Status of Women in New York. She advocated for intersectional recognition in the Agreed Conclusions, influencing action on the barriers and discrimination faced by First Nations women and girls.




Ané Coetzee

Ané is a public engagement professional with deep experience working in international development and affairs. She has a proven track record of delivering high-impact projects with the goal of advancing progress against the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Throughout her career, Ané has worked in Australia, Fiji and the U.S.A. in a range of strategic engagement roles. Most recently she worked with UNICEF Australia to roll-out communications strategies to support key campaigns and youth engagement.


She has also worked with the UN World Food Programme in Fiji as part of the Australian Aid programme. In this role, she developed extensive experience in designing public awareness and advocacy campaigns to support disaster-preparedness strategies. Previously, she worked with the UN Global Compact on the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit and Business Ambition for 1.5 Campaign.


Ané has a passion for youth engagement and has held many youth leadership roles, including Country Coordinator Australia for the 16th UN Youth Climate Change Conference, Member of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Youth Constituency and Member of the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth.


Ané holds a Bachelor of Media (Public Relations and Advertising) from the University of New South Wales and a Master of Commerce (Marketing and International Business) from the University of Sydney.




Eloise Dolan

Eloise Dolan is Program Manager at Asia Society Australia, driving design and delivery of the organisation's Victoria-based programming. Eloise leads the national Gen A (Generation Asia) leadership network, a platform that connects and develops the next generation of Asia-focused leaders. In 2020 Eloise established the Generation Asia Youth Forum, a summit that brings together Asia-engaged changemakers with senior leaders in our society to spotlight how young people continue to shape our ties to Asia despite travel bans, social disruption, and economic and political uncertainty.


Eloise previously worked as Project Coordinator for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program, a bilateral initiative strengthening Australia-Indonesia relations through cultural and youth exchange. Passionate about intercultural learning and youth engagement, Eloise has served as board director and volunteer for AFS Intercultural Programs. She regularly conducts workshops on global competence and works in a team of international trainers to facilitate content exploring the intersection of intercultural learning and social justice.


Eloise holds a Master of International Relations from the University of Melbourne and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Australia. In her spare time she is a mentor for international students through Practera, an Australian EdTech company.




Emily Enright

Emily Enright is a Policy Fellow at the British American Security Information Council (BASIC), London, where she works on the Gender, Youth and Diversity portfolio. She is the Coordinator for BASIC’s Emerging Voices Network, a new network of high-performing young professionals in nuclear which centres regional, gender and youth inclusion as essential to innovative global policymaking.


Emily’s research interests include norms and institutions in nuclear weapons policy, WMD arms control and nuclear weapons politics. She presented at the 2020 UK PONI Conference, was a security delegate to the 2020 Indo-Pacific Youth Dialogue, and is a member of Girl Security’s first UK mentor cohort. Emily has worked on research projects relating to P5 dialogue, the future of arms control, and strengthening the UK’s nuclear policy community.


She is an MA Candidate at King’s College London (KCL), works with Student/Young Pugwash UK on their ‘Project on Ethical Science’, and worked throughout 2020 as a research assistant at the Centre for Science and Security Studies, KCL.


Formerly a junior public servant in Australia, and having volunteered briefly with YAIA Victoria, Emily completed her BA with Honours at the University of Melbourne and has a Certificate in International Affairs and Strategy from Sciences Po.




Caitlin Figueiredo

Caitlin Figueiredo ("Fig-ar-aye-do") is a proud Goan-Australian and Founder-CEO of Jasiri Australia, a social enterprise working to unleash the next generation of diverse political leaders and policy changemakers. Jasiri’s civic engagement program, Girls Takeover Parliament is internationally renowned and works with over 40% of Australia's federal parliament and 130 politicians across the Pacific, India and Trinidad and Tobago annually.


Caitlin serves as the Vice-Chair of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, the national peak body representing 4.5 million young people. In this role, she works to ensure young people’s voices are heard within federal government. As Vice-Chair, Caitlin was integral in securing the Federal Minister and Shadow Minister of Youth roles, a multi-million-dollar election commitment from the Australian Labor Party and funding for AYAC and national youth advocacy programs from the Australian government. In 2020, Caitlin was selected as an Expert Panellist by the Prime Minister and Minister for Youth to co-develop the Australian Youth Development Index.


Caitlin has eight years’ experience advising and developing mobilisation and policy strategies for international civil society and humanitarian organisations. She has worked with two DFAT Assistant Secretaries as a Senior Consultant for the Australian Aid Program. Caitlin has also worked with UN Women and the United Nations in New York, where she served on three UN Inter-Agency Task Forces and was a founding committee member of the UN Commission of the Status of Women Youth Forum. She is a frequent national media commentator and international speaker having spoken at the United Nations, 10 Downing Street, Parliament House, US State Department and more.


For her work in civic mobilisation and gender equality, Caitlin was named a Queens Young Leader by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, The Australian Human Rights Commission, Young People’s Human Rights Medal finalist and is a Forbes 30 Under 30 list maker. In 2019, Caitlin was selected to attend the first Forbes 30 Under 30 Global Women's Summit, which recognised and brought together the most powerful young women from across the globe to Israel.


Caitlin remains the youngest woman to win the Young Leader category in the Australian 100 Women of Influence awards. Caitlin has a bachelor’s degree in Development Studies with a Pacific Regional Specialisation and is currently completing a Masters in National Security Policy.




Rachele Grassi

Rachele is from Milan and is the first ever female Secretary General of the Chamber in Sydney.


Rachele has extensive experience fostering business, developing institutional networks, promoting Italian based companies, and driving bilateral trade among Italy and Australia. She joined the Chamber in Sydney 2016, taking over the role as CEO and Secretary General in 2018. She previously worked for 5 years at the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Japan, where she developed the passion for bilateral relationships and economic diplomacy.


She was selected as one of 52 Emerging Leaders in the prestigious European Union’s EU-Australia Leadership forum in 2018-2019 and among the finalists at the Executive of the Year Awards 2020.


Rachele studied in Milan, at the Faculty of Intercultural Mediation with majors in Economics, Law, Japanese and Chinese. She is a strong advocate for women’s equality, and leading by example and shared values.




Kate Kalinova

Kate Kalinova is a Project Manager at the Australian Chamber of Commerce (AustCham) in Korea. With a strong background in research, community-building, and social media marketing, Kate has been an active advocate for Australia-Asia engagement.


Embracing her passion for international affairs and community development, Kate has substantial leadership and volunteering experience in the space. At the Australia-China Youth Association (ACYA), she served as President of ACYA Beijing, while at Young Australians in International Affairs (YAIA), she served as East Asia Fellow and Careers Director. Her writing has been published by the Lowy Institute, the East Asia Forum and The Korea Times.


Kate holds a Bachelor's degree (with Honours) from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney and a Master's degree from the China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU) in Beijing. Alongside her studies, Kate has completed numerous internships in Australia, China, and South Korea. She is passionate about community engagement and is always keen to get involved in projects that strengthen and enrich the Australia-Korea bilateral relationship.


In addition to her full-time role with AustCham Korea, she is currently a Co-Director and Korea Correspondent for Asia Options and an Honorary Reporter for TalkTalkKorea (Korea.net).




Natasha Karner

Natasha Karner is a PhD candidate in RMIT’s Global, Urban and Social Studies School. She is currently researching the risks of emerging technologies in warfare, specifically looking at fully-autonomous weapons and international efforts to address them at the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. More broadly, she has written on the changing nature of warfare; the benefits and risks of increasing automation and AI; and concerns over personal data and app use. She is passionate about mitigating any potential humanitarian harm that may come from misunderstood or fast-tracked technology and weapons. She currently teaches international relations at RMIT and the University of Melbourne, and her writing has been published on Young Australians in International Affairs Insights blog.


Natasha is a former recipient of the George Alexander and John Storey Jnr awards, which allowed her to study at the Berlin School of Economics and Law and intern at the Refugee Migrant Children’s Centre. In recent years, she has contributed to the Australian Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, which collaborates with the international campaign to address concerns about autonomous weapons. She is also a founding member of BASIC’s Emerging Voices Network, a global and inclusive community of next-generation leaders collaborating on nuclear issues and developing recommendations to improve nuclear weapons policy making. Outside of research and advocacy, she is a co-founder of the James Marcon Youth Health Foundation, which has raised over $250,000 to fund innovative art programs for Headspace centres and raise awareness for youth mental health in Australia.




Jessica Kipping

Jessica Kipping is currently Second Secretary and Consul at the Australian Embassy in Beirut, managing consular issues and crisis response for Australians in Lebanon and Syria.


Since arriving in 2019, amid ongoing civil unrest and economic uncertainty in Lebanon, Jessica has focused on providing consular assistance to one of Australia's largest diaspora populations, including in cases of imprisonment, forced marriage, hospitalisation and kidnapping.


In 2020 Jessica assisted hundreds of Australians in Lebanon and Syria to return home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and managed the Embassy's consular response following the Beirut Port explosion, which affected many Australians, including herself - her residence was destroyed in the blast.


Before her posting to Beirut, Jessica completed a short-term mission at Australia's Embassy in the Federated States of Micronesia, and worked in onshore consular operations and media liaison for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).


Prior to joining DFAT in 2016, Jessica worked in corporate operations for Woolworths, and interned in the Middle East Bureau of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva.


Jessica speaks Arabic and French and holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Arts with a Diploma in Languages from Monash University.




Eveline Kuang

Eveline (Evie) is a solicitor at King & Wood Mallesons, working in the mergers & acquisitions team and specialising in foreign investment. In her role, Evie advises clients on the impact of the Australian foreign investment regime to transactions, including advising on the recently introduced national security regime.


Prior to joining King & Wood Mallesons, Evie spent almost 10 years working in the Commonwealth Government – most recently as a legislative adviser, providing advice on national security policy and a policy adviser in foreign investment and critical infrastructure.


Evie has been a volunteer with the Australian Red Cross since 2015, volunteering in local programs and is currently a member of the ACT Divisional Advisory Board. Evie recently concluded a two-year term as the Youth Member on the Australian Red Cross National Board. As part of this role, Evie represented Australia and Australian youth internationally as part of the Red Cross Red Crescent movement and in Geneva at the movement’s statutory meetings in December 2019 as part of the Australian delegation. The meetings consisted of a number of conferences, attended by over 150 Red Cross Red Crescent national societies, government representatives from each of these countries and other large NGOs with a focus on achieving humanitarian focused outcomes. Evie was the recipient of the Australian Red Cross’ Youth Meritorious Service Award in 2018 for her contributions locally and nationally.


Evie has a keen interest in human rights and International Humanitarian Law, giving back to the community and in inspiring others to do the same. Evie is also a qualified yoga teacher, teaching in Canberra yoga studios and is passionate about promoting wellness and wellbeing.




Alyssa Leng

Alyssa Leng is a Research Associate in the Power and Diplomacy program at the Lowy Institute. Alyssa’s research interests include geo-economics as well as economic growth and development, particularly in Southeast Asia.


Her most recent work includes the COVID Performance Index, a digital analysis of how different regions, political systems, population sizes and levels of economic development have handled the pandemic so far. She is also one of the principal researchers behind the Lowy Institute Asia Power Index, a data-driven project which maps the changing distribution of power in the region.


Before joining the Institute, Alyssa worked on Australia's economic policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic and infrastructure policy at the Australian Treasury. She has also worked at the Reserve Bank of Australia and holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney.




Amelia Long

Amelia is the Second Secretary at the Australian Mission to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Jakarta, Indonesia. She holds a Bachelor of International and Global Studies (2014) from the University of Sydney. During her studies, Amelia participated in an academic exchange to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she commenced Indonesian language studies.


Prior to joining the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as a policy graduate in 2017, Amelia was a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, where she focused on defence and security issues in Southeast Asia, and an editor of The Strategist. She has previously worked at The Altruis Foundation in Sukabumi, West Java, and as Communications Officer at the ACT Chapter of the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association. Amelia was a panellist at UN Youth Australia’s 2016 Security Summit, attended the Conference of Australian and Indonesian Youth as a delegate in 2018, and was selected for the 2020 Raisina Dialogue Young Fellows Program.




Iona Main

Iona is a foreign policy adviser at Australia’s Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), currently on leave to undertake a Master of Public Affairs at Princeton University.


At PM&C, Iona worked in the International Division where she focused on strengthening Australia’s relations with Southeast Asia, providing strategic policy advice to the Prime Minister and contributing to milestone meetings including Sydney’s hosting of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in 2018.


At Princeton, Iona is concentrating in international relations and served as the class co-president in 2020. Outside class, she has undertaken a summer consultancy at the World Bank and has worked as a research assistant to former US Ambassador to Israel and Middle East policy expert, Professor Daniel Kurtzer. She has had several articles on American politics published in the Lowy Interpreter, and has been a contributing writer to the Economist Intelligence Unit on Australian political and economic affairs.


Iona has a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sydney, and speaks Bahasa Indonesia and French.




Rachel Mason Nunn

Rachel is the Manager of International Development at Equity Economics and Development Partners. Rachel is also the founder and host of Good Will Hunters, and produces podcasts on development and foreign policy through her communications agency Good Will Media.


Previously, Rachel was a Senior Consultant at EY, and a Social Development Specialist at the World Bank, working in Papua New Guinea and throughout the Pacific. Prior to this, Rachel worked for ex-Premier Mike Baird. Rachel is a leading expert at the intersection of development and foreign policy.




Mikaylie Page

Mikaylie is a modern slavery, human rights and environmental sustainability research analyst and COO at the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership (AASYP). Passionate about sustainable development and Australia's relationship with Southeast Asia, Mikaylie graduated from her degree in Law and Arts with first class honours and a double major in International Relations and Political Economics/Social Policy.


Mikaylie is the COO of AASYP where she works to build connections between young people aged 18-29 years from across Southeast Asia and Australia. Working to bring youth voices into international diplomacy, Mikaylie is responsible for highlighting young people in the region by managing AASYP's diplomacy, publications, digital events, hub and eLearning portfolios.


In 2019, Mikaylie undertook studies in Indonesia where she studied at Indonesian law and business at the Islamic University of Indonesia (UII). While in Indonesia, she interned at the Centre for Human Rights UII, working on projects focused on regional peacebuilding through interfaith dialogues and the inclusion of Indigenous Believers. She also interned at Wahana Visi (World Vision) Indonesia on the 'End Violence Against Children' campaign.