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Young Women Changing the Face of Leadership

The local elections this October have the potential to completely change the face of the New Plymouth District Council. It is being acknowledged that more diversity is needed around Council tables across the country. The current NPDC has one of the lowest percentages of women out of the entire country with only 2 of the 14 seats being occupied by women.

This could all change as several women, in particular women under 40, are standing for election this year. “Our district, our world is changing rapidly, and with the challenges of transitioning our economy and responding to climate change at our doorstep, it’s time that younger people stepped up to make decisions - after all, this is our future,” says Amanda Clinton-Gohdes, 32, a candidate standing for the first time this year. She’s in good company with another newcomer, Katherine Blaney, 36, who is also standing. “With a young, female prime minister in New Zealand, we are seeing that the perception of leadership is changing and I think people are willing to challenge the traditional idea of who can be an effective leader.”

Both candidates bring a wealth of skills and experience with them. Clinton-Gohdes has worked as a commercial and property lawyer locally, has a background in tertiary education strategy and equity advice, and is also a member of the board for Dress for Success, an organisation that supports women to get into the workforce. Blaney has run her own digital consultancy and co-founded local non-profit organisation, On the House who rescue food that would otherwise go to waste and distribute it to people in need with no barriers.

Both women felt a calling that inspired their respective decisions to run. “It’s about creating a council that residents can feel more connected to, and one where they might see a closer reflection of themselves in the members,” says Katherine. “I want people of all ages to feel that Council is relevant to them, and that Council is looking out for their future. Decisions that Council makes affect the everyday lives of all of us - it matters who sits around the table.” says Amanda.

Across the country, other districts are also seeing a higher number of young women standing. It’s clear that society is shifting and that councils this October could see quite a lot of change.

With the nomination period still open, both candidates want to encourage other young women and men to stand in an effort to bring new thinking into the council.

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