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Recognising Rural Women’s Contribution

The Minister of Women’s Affairs, Hon Georgina te Heuheu, today acknowledged the contribution that rural women make to the economy and the community, and called for more rural women to be appointed to decision making bodies. Mrs te Heuheu was speaking at the presentation in Parliament of the Rural Women’s Day media awards.

“There are some great stories to be told about rural women. This competition brought some of them to light. It is really pleasing to see women getting the acknowledgment they deserve in the media,” Mrs te Heuheu said.

“The subject of the award winning story and photo is a mother of three young children who is not only managing a household but is also running a 365 hectare farm with the support of her husband.

“It’s a story of a woman with enormous energy, optimism and good humour and I would like to thank and congratulate the writer, Avalon Willing, and the photographer, Pip Guthrie, for giving us Cynthia Palmer’s story.

“Recent research shows that rural women, like Cynthia, are increasing their participation in full-time agriculture and livestock production,” said Mrs te Heuheu.

“Women are closely involved in the decision making that goes on in farming businesses. They also run off-farm businesses, work with iwi and hapu trusts and incorporations, and maintain community and social services in rural areas.

“Yet there is still serious under-representation of women on decision making bodies in rural and agricultural related areas. Not only is this extremely frustrating for the superbly capable women who are keen to serve in this way, it is also an unforgivable waste of ability and talent. The research is quite clear: greater diversity leads to better governance.

The Government is committed to increasing the numbers of women in decision-making roles in society. Both the Prime Minister and myself encourage our Cabinet colleagues to consider skilled and qualified women when making appointments to statutory bodies. We hope our leadership on this issue is reflected in the thinking of all those in a position to influence on this important issue.

I am pleased that we are making progress with 35 percent of appointments and reappoints to statutory boards in 1998 being women, up from 25 percent in 1993, however we must acknowledge there is still room for further improvement.

“I make a plea to all of us to keep our minds and our boardroom doors open to the many women who are more than able to contribute to decision making at all levels,” said Mrs te Heuheu.

ENDS

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