Meet our Women of the Future winners

The votes are in! Genevieve Clay-Smith and Marita Cheng are named the Judges' Choice winners while Rowena Gilbett is named the People's Choice winner.

The votes are in, and the winners have been announced at The Weekly’s annual Women of the Future awards this evening.

Dame Quentin Bryce announced Genevieve 
Clay-Smith and Marita Cheng as the Judges’ Choice winners tonight at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. It is the first time two women have won the coveted title.

Both women have been awarded $10,000 cash, a $10,000 Qantas travel bursary and year’s Qantas Club membership.

Rowena Gilbett was announced the People’s Choice winner, also receiving $10,000 cash, a $10,000 Qantas travel bursary and year’s Qantas Club membership.

The six runners-up – who will receive $5,000 cash, a $5,000 Qantas travel bursary and year’s Qantas Club membership – include Ellen Holmes, Nipuni Wijewickrema, Emma Colenbrander, Melissa Abu-Gazaleh, Sharell O’Brien and Genevieve Radnan.

The Women of the Future competition was judged by an esteemed list of women including Jesinta Campbell, Lisa Wilkinson, Leigh Sales, Chloe Shorten, Denise Morcombe, Turia Pitt and Julie Bishop.

Meet the winners.

Judges’ Choice Winner

Clay-Smith, 27. 
Co-founder, Bus Stop Films

As a student, Genevieve Clay-Smith spent 18 months as a trainee film-maker creating a documentary for Down Syndrome NSW. Through this traineeship she met Gerard O’Dwyer, a man with Down Syndrome who wanted to be 
an actor. They went on to make a film together, Be My Brother, which won the short film festival, Tropfest, in 2009.

It was enough to convince Genevieve 
to start the not-for-profit Bus Stop Films, an outfit which stages weekly workshops teaching special-needs students the art of film-making. Having already made six short films and won 40 international awards, Genevieve wants to partner with a large organisation to expand the program.

“There is no other organisation in the world helping people with an intellectual disability to produce films,” Genevieve says. Bus Stop Films productions are truly inspiring and the judges are in no doubt that Genevieve will be a future leader in our country.


Judges’ Choice Winner

Marita Cheng, 26. Founder, 2Mar Robotics

There cannot be a better poster girl for women in technology than the remarkable Marita Cheng. From humble beginnings 
in Cairns Housing Commission, the robotics engineer has sent 
a frisson through the competitive industry in which she has chosen to work with inventions that are not only commercially viable, but also serve a socially useful purpose.

Her company, 2Mar Robotics, is developing Teleroo, a video telephone whose uses include assisting carers to remotely monitor their adult children with a disability.

This Young Australian of the Year is also one of the faces of 
a campaign to encourage governments to add computer coding to the national curriculum. And through her work with Robogals, an organisation she founded in 2008, which sends students into schools to teach girls about robotics, she is one of the country’s leading advocates on getting more girls into science.


People’s Choice Winner

Rowena Gilbett, 27. Founder, Strong Girl Fitness

Inspired by the many great teachers she had throughout high school, Rowena Gilbett became a PE teacher and now works in the small town of Kempsey on the NSW mid-North Coast, where she started Strong Girl Fitness. For a gold coin donation, her students can participate in the after-school program that incorporates cardio and strength training with positive body image classes, plus teamwork and leadership building workshops.

“Governments spend a lot of money trying to keep adults healthy,” Rowena says. 
“If we can educate girls while they are young, that’s the real key to creating a happy 
and healthy community.”

Strong Girl Fitness has already transformed the lives of many Kempsey schoolgirls and has captured the imagination of the local community, whose support has been unequivocal.

For the full story, buy a copy of The Australian Women’s Weekly on sale Thursday September 24.

Unwind and relax with your favourite magazine!

Huge savings plus FREE home delivery

Related stories