How Renata is building a network of women lawyers in PNG

Sunday, April 26, 2020
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Papua New Guinean (PNG) Legal Counsel, Renata Yayabu, believes “everyone has the potential for leadership”, but having “the right mentality” is what is most important.

The Master of Laws (Monash University) graduate shared her Women's Leadership Initiative (WLI) Leadership and Mentoring program journey, how she’s building a network of women PNG lawyers, and tips for leadership success.

Supporting and mobilising women PNG lawyers

Having worked in various roles within PNG’s legal system, Renata knows workplace cultures and leadership opportunities can be more challenging and limited for women lawyers.

The former Solicitor-in-Charge of Vanimo's Public Solicitor’s Office hopes to have a positive impact on gender equity by creating more supportive professional environments and opportunities for women lawyers.

Recently, she established the Female Lawyers Forum – a network of women lawyers across PNG that can be mobilised to address gender-based violence and child protection.

Joining the WLI program to effect change

To help Renata achieve her developmental leadership goals, she applied for and was accepted into the WLI Leadership and Mentoring program in 2018.

Over 18 months, Renata developed her own leadership style to exercise in-country. She expanded her developmental leadership knowledge and built her networks. She also took part in two week-long intensive leadership retreats with fellow scholars.  

"The WLI Leadership and Mentoring program allows me to create my own roadmap to be an effective and influential leader in the development of law.

“The residential intensive section of the program, for me, was an eye opener and a mind-shifting experience. The outdoors experience instilled resilience and teamwork. I met like-minded Pacific women scholars who are just as passionate as I am in effecting change around them, and in growing and developing themselves,” said Renata.

Tackling issues together with mentor, Kylie Anderson  

[Pictured: Kylie Anderson and Renata]

Renata was matched with mentor, Kylie Anderson. Kylie has over 18 years’ experience of practising law, advising, and managing teams within Australian government and international organisations. She also has extensive experience in human rights and child protection.

Renata said Kylie “understands precisely the challenges of a female legal manager and lawyer working in a Pacific government office … Kylie's experience in developmental issues in the practice of law in the Pacific will greatly guide and empower me to be a legal developmental leader back in Papua New Guinea. Some of Papua New Guinea's laws are derived from Australia's Queensland state and it is great to learn from my mentor's current Queensland work”. 

Renata’s advice for leadership success

While skills building and leadership opportunities are vital, Renata highlights that, “my WLI journey thus far has taught me that leadership, before ability, is about having the right mentality”.

“Believe in yourself, that you are a leader, regardless of your background, education, qualifications, experience or leadership training. Believe in your leadership strength and gain confidence from within."

“The leadership road ahead has challenges, but persevere regardless. Associate with like-minded people who will enable you to grow in your leadership journey and who will help you to achieve your vision wherever you choose to lead,” said Renata.


Read more about Renata, her mentor Kylie, and what other WLI scholars are up to: Women's Developmental Leadership Program (