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Leadership programme developed for dairying women

Date: 30 September 2014

Leadership programme developed for dairying women

A pilot programme to develop the skills and confidence of dairy women to influence and lead positive change in their businesses and communities begins in November.

While there are other rural leadership programmes on offer, Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) and Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) have together developed one specifically for women in the dairy industry.

The pilot programme, called Pathways, was developed and designed by AWDT after the two organisations held focus groups with dairy women to find out exactly what they needed to gain the confidence in their ability to influence and lead change.

The programme is funded by Ministry for Primary Industries and DairyNZ.

Rotorua dairy farmer Chris Paterson heard about the Pathways programme at the DWN conference earlier this year and thought it sounded like a good place to start to improve her skills.

“I hope to gain better communication skills and an ability to motivate people “to have a go”,” said Mrs Paterson.

“I also want to learn how to lobby people of influence better, and feel a little more confident in myself as someone that can take the initiative and make things happen in my community.”

The programme is being run by AWDT.

“Talking with dairy women in the research focus groups, we found that while they faced similar issues to rural women generally, there was an opportunity for a highly-tailored, intermediate-level leadership programme specifically for them, in addition to the other programmes we offer,” said AWDT executive director Lindy Nelson.

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Dairy Women’s Network has engaged AgResearch to carry out the evaluation of the pilot programme.

AgResearch social scientist Neels Botha will be carrying out phone interviews with the participants to find out how the sessions are going and evaluating the process to get a better understanding of how their skills are growing.

“It was very important to us that this programme be of utmost benefit to dairying women, which is why we engaged AgResearch to evaluate how woman develop through the programme,” said DWN chief executive Zelda de Villiers.

“I think what adds tremendous value is that as well as the skills these women will be coached on, they will also leave with a goal-based action plan and the support to implement it.”

“It’s been fantastic to see the three organisations working together to combine our knowledge, skills and networks for the benefit of dairy women and the industry,” said Nelson.

Pathways spans six months and involves two two-day learning modules, individual coaching and mentoring.

Some of the specific skills covered over the course of the programme include confidence in strategic thinking, conflict management and achieving personal growth to lead change in farming businesses.

“Pathways is a unique programme targeted at dairy women stepping into bigger roles in their communities, that will leave them with a sound knowledge of their strengths and an action plan as to how they will lead and influence change in their businesses and communities,” said Nelson.

The pilot phase of the project is being funded by DairyNZ and the North Island programme starts on 4-5 November in Hamilton, with the second pilot programme taking place in the South Island on 20-21 May 2015.

For more information, or to download an application form, visit and


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