Fundraising News

Runner Profile: Mikayla Hyland-Wood

The next runner we are interviewing on the 2024 #RunforFemiliPNG team is Mikayla Hyland-Wood.

Mikayla is passionate about using agriculture to promote gender equity and reduce poverty in the Pacific region. She is an avid Femili PNG Coffee supporter, and is running in the half marathon at the Canberra Times Marathon Festival.

We sat down with Mikayla to ask her some questions about running and her interest in Femili PNG’s work.

So, you’re running in the half marathon at the Festival?

I am – this will be my first half marathon!

I started running a little over a year ago, during the midst of COVID and while I was studying for my Honours project at ANU. I’ve always loved exploring the world and spending time outdoors, and running gave me an opportunity to do that. I’ve found it to be a great way to clear my head and spend time doing something that makes me happy.

I already know I can run 10km, and so I wanted to give the half marathon a go at the Canberra Times Marathon Festival. I’m really excited to be supporting Femili PNG’s work while doing it!

What did your Honours project involve?

My Honours project was focused on measuring the carbon cost of growing coffee beans in Papua New Guinea.

I didn’t have much of a connection to PNG before this, but during my time on the project I got to visit the country and engage with local farmers, women’s cooperatives, coffee exporters and peak government bodies. I really saw the impact that food security and resilient agricultural systems could have on a community. I learned how closely agriculture is intertwined with gender equity, poverty and other social outcomes; and developed a strong interest in both PNG and the local coffee industry.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working as a research officer at the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). I have a particular focus on soil health and horticulture research programs in the Pacific (including PNG), Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa – looking at how things like coffee and cocoa farming can help in achieving social outcomes.

Most researchers don’t realise how closely nutrition and access to food are connected with gender equality and poverty. My work tries to challenge that and examine the ways we can use food and agriculture to improve the social wellbeing of communities.

How did you get involved with Femili PNG?

Sustineo was working with me on my Honours project, alongside ANU and DFAT. This is how I met Tom Sloan – Sustineo’s CEO and FemiliPNG Australia’s treasurer. He introduced me to Femili PNG, and to their coffee!

Grown by women in the Western Highlands of PNG, Femili PNG Coffee empowers women to participate in the local agricultural industry. This provides women with access to financial resources – which is an essential part of achieving gender equity – and improves opportunities for PNG farmers. The coffee also raises funds for Femili PNG’s work with survivors of violence in PNG.

Through my work, I have become a passionate advocate for the rights of women and girls across the Pacific. I see how important it is to take a multi-faceted approach to addressing gender-based violence, and I see how essential services like Femili PNG’s are to communities. This cause is extremely important to me, and I’m looking forward to joining the Femili PNG team at the Canberra Times Marathon Festival.

To sponsor Mikayla’s run and help her raise funds for survivors of family and sexual violence in Papua New Guinea, visit her fundraising page.

Interested in being part of the team? See here for further details.