Goodhew: NEXT Woman of the Year 2013 Awards
10 October, 2013
Speech: NEXT Woman of the Year 2013 Awards
E aku rangatira, tēnā koutou katoa. Ka nui to honore ki te mihi ki a koutou.
Thank you Sarah for your warm welcome. I am delighted to have been asked to speak tonight and to be in the company of so many outstanding and inspirational women and their supporters. I acknowledge Auckland Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, the judges Martin Snedden, Sarah Henry and Theresa Gattung and Julie Bartlett, 2012 winner and StarJam CEO and Founder, and of course tonight’s 30 finalists. I congratulate NEXT Magazine in association with Pandora for hosting the 2013 NEXT Woman of the Year Awards.
I am here tonight hot on the heels of suffrage month. During September celebrations were held across the country to mark the 120th anniversary of women winning the vote in New Zealand. The first country in the world where all women had the right to vote.
Kate Sheppard is credited with leading the Suffrage movement – culminating in its success in 1893. And although it is Kate who is most readily identifiable to most New Zealanders, it was a journey she didn’t go on alone, – men and women were integral to the ultimate success of the campaign. Kate bolstered the movement by inspiring those around her. Kate travelled the country, undeterred by fierce opposition; she didn’t take heed when they told her women should give up ‘meddling in masculine concerns of which they are profoundly ignorant’.
Her call to action was heard in homes, streets, businesses, and the parliamentary chamber. Her passion was infectious and her determination undeniable.
Hopefully, like all of you here tonight, Kate knew her value and her potential. Kate is immortalised on one of our most regularly used bank notes, the ten dollar bill, a symbolic gesture that reminds us each day of her importance to our history and to our values today.
It’s amazing to think how many ‘Kate Sheppards’ have passed through my hands. Imagine the times you would have used a ten dollar note – and not thought twice about the face looking up at you.
We have come a long way since 1893 and women succeed in almost every facet of our society. But there are still too many instances where the true potential of women, in our businesses and communities, goes unnoticed and unrecognised - much like that face on the ten dollar note. The women in our offices, homes, communities, sports team… who are they? What are they striving for? What do they value?
While I am thrilled by the ground swell of both public and private sector activity to improve the lot of women, we still have a way to go and I am interested in addressing the factors that still hamper women’s success.
During suffrage celebrations last month I released a research report: Realising the Opportunity: Addressing New Zealand’s leadership pipeline by attracting and retaining talented women. This report aims to inform discussion, support initiatives already underway, and more importantly encourage new actions so that organisations recruit and retain more talented women in leadership roles. For those of you who wish to delve deeper, you will find the report on the Ministry of Women’s Affairs website.
Our success as a country relies on every New Zealander being able to realise their full potential. All of us here this evening know that the benefits of diversity in leadership are significant. We recognise the value of diversity, the value of experiences outside of the workforce and in communities, and the value of inspirational leaders.
These awards make us all stop and reflect on the real value of the women in our communities. Tonight we’re putting the spotlight on women who lead, inspire and challenge us to do more. I am impressed by the breadth of achievement – just look at the list and you’ll see all the places that women are valued.
From the arts category: singer; songwriter; dance doyenne; festival founder; creator of an urban regeneration project in Christchurch. You make our lives rich with cultural experience.
From the sports category: chief executive; BMX champion; Olympic rower; cricketer; Paralympic cyclist. We are in awe of your talent and dedication to your field of sport.
From the education category, those who: provide programmes for children experiencing difficulties; prevent bullying and promote safety; make sure that children get the best start they can; empower children to identify environmental, social and sustainability issues. Your efforts are changing lives.
From the community category, those who: help new immigrants integrate into New Zealand society; campaign for justice; meet children’s needs for food and clothing; support those bringing up grandchildren; ensure that no seriously ill child misses out on a special birthday cake. I applaud your caring and concern for others within our community.
From the health and science category: obstetrician and researcher of high risk pregnancy; researcher of childhood-obesity, researcher of brain disorders and injury; astronomer; health care leader. Your work is vital for the health and future of all of us.
From the business category: culinary entrepreneur; leading life insurer; sustainable business network developer; women’s development leader in the agri-business field; new business developer; graphic design entrepreneur. Our future prosperity depends on innovative and outstanding business leaders like you.
Wow everyone, what I wouldn’t do to have every one of your CVs on the Ministry of Women’s Affairs’ database!
So tonight we recognise your value, and pay tribute to your innovation, tenacity, and determination. And just like that ten dollar note, do not let your value slip through hands unnoticed. I implore all of us to keep ‘meddling’, as I truly don’t believe there is any such thing as a ‘masculine concern’ that we either are or should remain ‘profoundly ignorant’ of!
Achieving further success will take a determined effort over time and the collective actions of many. The benefits will be immense, not only for women, but for their families, our communities and all New Zealanders.
Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.