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Speech: Indian Central Association Women’s Conference

Speaking notes to New Zealand Indian Central Association Women’s Conference

Rydges Hotel, 272 Fenton Street, Rotorua

Namaste, good morning.

It’s a pleasure to here today at this New Zealand Indian Central Association Women’s Conference, especially as you celebrate your ten year anniversary.

Congratulations. I hope you leave today’s forum, encouraged and inspired to reach your full potential and achieve your goals.

I thank the Women’s Committee of the New Zealand Indian Central Association, not just for your efforts in organising today’s event, but for your dedication and hard work as leaders.

Your Association is a great example of women coming together for mutual support to overcome barriers. You have every right to aspire to positions of leadership, not just in your communities, but across all of New Zealand.

Today is an excellent opportunity for Indian women to meet and connect with like-minded women. By sharing your personal stories you can learn from each other’s experiences.

Building a strong network around you and drawing from the strengths and contacts of your peers will help you achieve both your personal and your professional goals – whether it’s assisting in finding a school for your children, or helping you to find a new job or business opportunity.

And it’s important you don’t just restrict your networking to within New Zealand’s Indian communities – connecting with a range of New Zealanders will ensure a greater opportunity for success.

You all have the potential to be leaders in both your personal and professional lives.

By helping each other to remove barriers, you will ensure the voices of Indian women are being heard not just in your own communities, but across the whole country.

New Zealand has a proud history of women standing up and contributing. I include my mother and my grandmothers in that history.

I learnt from them that women are leaders in our homes, in our communities, in our businesses and in government. I am encouraging you to play your part so that you in turn show the way for your children and grandchildren.

I am inviting you to contribute by putting your hand up, to say that you are willing to be involved in the decisions about how we all, as New Zealanders, live our lives.

To help you do this, the Office of Ethnic Affairs runs a Nominations Service. This Service is a database of people from within our ethnic communities who are suitably qualified to be put forward for appointment on government boards, committees and advisory groups.

The Service is also an avenue for leaders within our ethnic communities to register their interest and availability to take up appointments on more than 400 state sector boards and committees.

However, we often find that it’s the male leaders from our ethnic communities who are proposed for board positions.

I would like to see this change.

I know that ethnic women have a lot to offer New Zealand and I would like to see more of you – particularly from within our Indian communities – getting involved and contributing to the decision-making process.

The positions are an excellent opportunity to contribute to the prosperity and strength of New Zealand’s economy and communities.

For the sake of your children and grandchildren, I encourage you all to get involved, to participate, and to help eliminate the barriers that hold ethnic women back from reaching their full potential.

If you or anybody you know is interested in registering with the Nominations Service, please get in touch with the Office of Ethnic Affairs and put your name forward.

While you may not all feel ready to sit on government boards and committees yet, you do all have the knowledge, skills and passion to get involved and give a voice to your communities.

It may be by sitting on the Parent Teacher Association of your children’s school, or by joining an organisation like the Women’s Committee of the New Zealand Indian Central Association; there are many ways that you can get involved. By being involved at the local and personal level, you are walking on the stepping stones that will take you to leadership roles in the wider New Zealand community.

Before I finish today, I want to shift gear to talk about an important leadership challenge for women. Family violence is an issue where women need to stand up and be heard. We need to work together to stamp it out.

While it isn’t something that is always pleasant to talk about, it is something that will only be eliminated if we do talk about it.

Family violence is an issue that affects a broad range of New Zealanders, regardless of ethnicity, financial status, education or where you live.

As women, we have the power to speak up and to speak out, to break the cycle and ensure that victims of family violence are able to get the help they need and provide a safe environment for their families.

We must show leadership and to speak for those who are too afraid to speak for themselves.

We have the power to keep our friends, families and neighbours safe by reporting any suspected family violence.

Finally I acknowledge you all for your involvement and contribution to today’s forum.

It’s fantastic to see so many of you keen to get involved with the decision making and direction of your communities and of New Zealand.

I encourage you to make the most of your time together, introduce yourselves to each other, share experiences and aspirations for the future. Shared stories are a great way to get good ideas.

I look forward to working with you all in the future.

© Scoop Media

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