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World Rural Women’s Day

Media Advisory

20 September 2006

World Rural Women’s Day

October 15 is World Rural Women’s Day, and the theme this year is Rural Women: Leaders of Tomorrow.

All things being equal, we wouldn’t need this theme for World Rural Women’s Day, but despite progress towards equality, we still have a long way to go in overcoming the women-in-leadership shortfall.

Globally women are dramatically under-represented in formal leadership positions. Even in New Zealand, despite the visibility of high-profile women such as the Prime Minister and Chief Justice, there’s still a chronic under-utilisation of women’s skills in governance and managerial roles in the private sector. By comparison a commitment to redressing the gender imbalance in the public sector has led to seven times the number of women taking on governance roles in Crown companies. It’s not the ability women lack, but the opportunity.

In the rural sector women are often at more of a disadvantage when it comes to taking on leadership roles than their urban counterparts. Isolation, lack of information, financial dependence and traditional role models play a part in this.

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) plays an important part in encouraging women to take on leadership roles by organising training and education programmes and providing practical opportunities to hone leadership skills within RWNZ. We give direct support through the granting of an annual governance course scholarship and we also encourage members to represent the voice of rural people by standing for election at local Government level and on District Health Boards.

Full utilization of women’s skills on the farm is also important. Our Women in Farming groups help equip women to contribute more fully to the decision making in their farming enterprises. Women in Farming groups provide opportunities for women to develop their skills in a supportive environment through training days, discussion groups and field trips.

Since its beginnings in 1925, RWNZ has supported many women leaders, and in tune with this year’s World Rural Women’s Day theme, we will continue to nurture rural women to realize their potential as ‘leaders of tomorrow’ for the benefits of rural families and rural communities, as well as the women themselves.

Rural Women New Zealand’s World Rural Women’s Day Events around the country:

- 13 October: Tomorrow’s Leader? Analyse your personality at a fun-filled evening and dinner with award-winning international speaker, Allison Mooney of Personality Plus – Venue Memorial Hall Centre, Stratford, Taranaki. Contact: Shirley Read (06) 762 3698

- 15 October: Homebush Estate visit: This historic Canterbury estate SH72, Darfield, is being opened especially for RWNZ. Tour the gardens, historic woolshed, stables and museum. Bring picnic lunch. 11.30am. $10 pp (children free). Guest speaker, Jeanette Tarbotton, South Pacific Area President of Association Country Women of the World. Contact: Sue Halse (03) 310 2277.

- 15 October: Wheatathon: Nelson North Rural Women are making wheat bags for Nelson Public Hospital from 1pm to 4pm at 14 Jackson St, Atawhai, Nelson. Contact: Pam McConnell (03) 545 0975.

- 16 October: 18 Carat Gold Day: Tour of Oceana Gold Mining operation Macraes Flat; followed by speakers on the impacts of the mining operation on the environment and Janet Gregory of NZ Landcare Trust on “Building Community Capacity”. Contact: Ellen Ramsay (03) 465 1702

- 16 October: Cowshed to Catwalk: Image consultant Jan Fisher will transform the lucky chosen ones. Speakers, stalls, fun and learning on all things relating to your appearance. Lunch and morning tea included. Venue – Te Awamutu, Waipa/King Country. Contact: Rachael Dean (07) 827 6778.

Background to World Rural Women’s Day

World Rural Women’s Day was launched by several international NGOs during the 4th UN World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 and a worldwide empowerment and education campaign has been organized each year since 1997 by the Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF).
Celebrations and events take place in more than 100 countries around the world. WWSF also publishes every year an OPEN LETTER TO RURAL WOMEN OF THE WORLD on a special subject (20,000 poster and Open Letters are mailed to NGOs, development organisations, Human Rights groups and the media).

About the day: World Rural Women's Day takes place each year on the 15th October. Rural women the world over play a major role in ensuring food security and in the development and stability of the rural areas. Yet, with little or no status, they frequently lack the power to secure land rights or to access vital services such as credit, inputs, extension, training and education. Their vital contribution to society goes largely unnoticed. World rural Women's Day aims to change this by bringing rural women out of obscurity at least once a year - to remind society how much they owe to rural women and to give value and credit to their work.

Did you know? Rural women comprise more than one quarter of the total world population. 500 million women live below the poverty line in rural areas. Women produce 60-80% of basic foodstuffs in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. Women perform over 50% of the labor involved in intensive rice cultivation in Asia. Women perform 30% of the agricultural work in industrialized countries. Women head 60% of households in some regions of Africa: Women meet 90% of household water and fuel needs in Africa. Women process 100% of basic household foodstuffs in Africa.

ENDS

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