Celebrating women in farming

March 8, 2019

Fonterra is marking International Women’s Day  by celebrating some of the cooperative’s farmers:

International Women’s Day is all about celebrating the achievements of women and also reflecting on how individuals, organisations and society as a whole can advance gender equality

We’re taking the opportunity to highlight just a few of the women who are making a difference in dairy. The theme in 2019 is ‘Balance for Better.’

One of the ways Fonterra has shown its commitment to promoting gender balance is by getting the Gender Tick, and being among the first New Zealand businesses to do so. . . 

You can read more about them by clicking the link above, but here’s a snap shot:


Do as they say not as they do

July 9, 2018

Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter wants more women on boards.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting but this sounds more like a warning:

. . .CORIN Yeah. But are you saying that some of those men have got into that position because they were white men?

JULIE ANNE Well, I think the reason there’s not diversity on boards is because we haven’t actively sought to overturn the status quo, which is the result of historic discrimination and bias and unconscious bias. So we just have to make an active effort to find those talented people. And through attrition, it can happen. You can replace people. I think there’s a role for men to play in terms of identifying people they can mentor and bring on to boards and champion that diversity. And so the key question is, you know, who is going to be responsible for this? And ultimately, the private sector is responsible for making those changes.

CORIN But what you’re saying is that they are going to have to get there themselves. You’re not going to force them to do it. Because that’s the point that I’m trying to make, which is, you know, you are going to get some resistance there. And are you willing to do that?

JULIE ANNE Well, the evidence is mixed on how successful that is. So quotas in some places have been successful, but they also can have perverse consequences. So what I would say is let’s start by putting up the challenge. NZX did have a diversity policy that they released. So they’ve said to their members you have to have a diversity policy or explain why not. That has increased diversity to some extent. We’re awaiting the next report, and I’m keen to see where they get to. But yeah, if they’re not going to make progress, if it’s going to sit there at 19%, then we might have to start thinking about ways government can incentivise them.

CORIN Quotas? 

JULIE ANNE Well, I think there’ll be a range of tools available. But we want to do what’s most effective, right? So whatever’s going to be most effective at motivating that change and ensuring that it doesn’t have any perverse consequences. . . 

Motivating sounds more carrot than stick but whether it would be or not isn’t clear.

But it’s what she seems to forget, or not know that is of most concern.

It’s shareholders who elect directors to the boards of companies in the private sector and what she’s saying suggests that the government might come up with something that would interfere with their right to elect who they want.

There is evidence that diversity can make a positive difference to governance but that still doesn’t give government the right to second guess shareholders or usurp their right to elect the directors of their own choosing without government motivation or what could well be regarded as meddling.

Before stirring up the private sector, the Minister should start much closer to home by addressing the gender imbalance in cabinet:

Ardern has released a list of 16 Cabinet ministers and five ministers outside Cabinet, including all 12 MPs on its current front bench.

Just seven of the 21 are women, six of whom are in Cabinet.

That is fewer than National which had nine in total, including seven inside Cabinet – and was often pilloried by Labour for its lack of representation.

In a Newshub debate during the election campaign, Ardern had said she believed Cabinet should be 50/50 female and male and would make it a target.

However, even the five ministers outside Cabinet chosen by Ardern herself rather than by caucus included just one woman – Meka Whaitiri. . . 

Genter’s aim for equal representation would look much less hypocritical if Cabinet didn’t show it’s a case of do as government says, not as it does.


Who’s the PCBU?

August 5, 2016

Just wondering: who is the PCBU (person in charge of a business or undertaking) when a stripper is performing for professional rugby players?

Is it the Chiefs rugby franchise, the person who hired the stripper, all the players who watched her, the stripper’s agent or the stripper herself?

Whoever it is, under the most recent health and safety legislation the PCBU is ultimately responsible for ensuring a workplace is safe but every worker also shares responsibility.

At risk of courting accusations of victim blaming, turning up alone to strip in front of a bunch of drunk young men isn’t taking your safety at work seriously.

It’s a bit like leaving the lights on and doors and windows open when you go out at night. It wouldn’t make it right for someone to burgle your house, but you would be at least naive if not foolhardy to make it so easy for them to do so.

This doesn’t make the reported behaviour of the audience acceptable. An invitation to look is not an invitation to touch and no always means no.

Also wondering: where does misogyny, (the dislike, hatred or mistrust of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women) begin?

Watching strippers doesn’t necessarily demonstrate hatred of women. But people don’t watch them in appreciation of their intellect or personality and I’m not sure if it’s possible to watch a striptease act without being guilty of contempt for and objectification of the stripper.

But where does that misogyny start – watching the stripper, ordering one, being an employer of or agent for one, or being one?

If you’re a stripper are you merely acting on your right to do what you want and earn some money in the process, or are you enabling misogynism?

Also wondering: is there more than a little irony that the story of the rugby players and the stripper coincide with another about actor Orlando Bloom paddle boarding naked and is that objectifying him?


High heels in the High Country 1

August 4, 2014

High Heels in the High Country is CTV’s tribute to women who’ve hung up their high heels and put on their gumboots to earn a living from the land.

The first episode features retiring MP Kate Wilkinson, agribusiness bank manager Pip O’Neill and Penny Zino the creator and owner of Flaxmere Garden.


200m hours

December 24, 2013
Glass ceilings aside, millions of women are prohibited from accomplishing little more than survival. Not because of a lack of ambition, or ability, but because of a lack of safe water and adequate sanitation. Millions of women and children in the developing world spend untold hours daily, collecting water from distant, often polluted sources, then return to their villages carrying their filled 40 pound jerry cans on their backs.
An estimated 200 million hours are spent each day globally collecting water.
Surveys from 45 developing countries show that women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection in the vast majority of households (76%). This is time not spent working at an income-generating job, caring for family members, or attending school.
In A Town Like Alice, the main character Jean uses some of her inheritance to dig a well for the women of the village where the British women prisoners lived because she realised the difference it would make.
That book is fiction and was written more than 60 years ago but there are still all those millions of hours wasted now in real life because people don’t have easy access to water.

21st centruy women should know better

August 4, 2013

What is it with women and the pursuit of “beauty” at the risk of their health?

You could be forgiven for thinking corsets belong in the Victorian era, the 1950s, or burlesque clubs. But a growing number of women are wearing them all day, every day, in a bid to reduce their waist size.

It’s a trend that has got health professionals worried.

Ivy D’Auton is a corset-maker in Auckland. Recently she’s noticed a small number of her Kiwi clients have started wearing them constantly – a practise called ‘waist training’.

“It’s the idea that you can modify your body through wearing corsets – so your waist gradually becomes smaller and smaller,” she says. . .

But doctors say the practise is very dangerous.

“What worries me most is pushing this to a place which isn’t right,” says Dr John Cameron. “It’s like toothpaste. If you squeeze a tube of toothpaste it’s going to come out both ends. Basically you’re trying to push her stomach up into your thorax and the rest goes down south – so you’re trying to change the anatomy.”

That can lead to digestive, breathing, muscular and skeletal problems over time. . .

Women of my mother’s generation squeezed themselves into panty girdles and other misogynist garments which squashed their innards and ruined their abdominal muscles.

Fortunately their daughters knew better but what’s happening to the next generation?

We’re now 13 years into the 21st century.

Girls have been told for decades that they can do anything and they don’t have to conform to stereotypical dictates over how they should look.

Yet still some women are putting their health at risk in the pursuit of an idealised, unnatural and unrealistic idea of beauty.


Next Woman of Year nominations open

July 21, 2012

Next Magazine is advertising for nominations for its third annual Woman of the Year awards.

Prizes will be awarded in six categories:

Arts and Culture: This award celebrates a woman who challenges boundaries and is a creative inspiration to others. She will have distinctive flair and originality. Working in arts or culture, her unique vision will have driven her to achieve a project that has touched the hearts and minds of New Zealanders.

Business and Innovation: This award acknowledges a great commercial and creative thinker. This woman has an entrepreneurial spirit and the confidence to challenge boundaries and conventional ideas balanced by a sense of professional responsibility. Via strategic thinking and leadership, she will have grown a business or developed a product or idea to achieve economic success. She will have created opportunity by both thinking outside the square and playing to her own strengths.

Community: Our society is founded on community-minded individuals who give of themselves to make a difference. This award celebrates one such woman who has contributed to a caring project in an outstanding way by championing a cause and addressing a social need. She will be a woman who has selflessly used her energy to empower others to reach their full potential.

Education: This award celebrates a woman who has made significant contributions to the learning and betterment of others. She will be a creative innovator who is ground breaking in her approach and committed to following her vision of helping people achieve and exceed their full potential.

Health and Science: This is an award for a great innovator in the area of health or science. She will be making ground breaking steps in an arena she is passionate about. She will have used her intellect and vision to discover or implement a new development that benefits the human race.

And Sport: This award pays tribute to a successful coach, sportswoman or administrator who has reached a notable physical goal or milestone. She will have been an inspiration for others along the way, showing mental conviction, physical strength and determination to excel in her chosen field. She will have displayed consistent sportsmanship and have a competitive spirit.

Women who excel in any of these areas are indeed worthy of recognition and they will be inspirational role models.

Last year’s winners were:

Arts and Culture: Jill Marshall, author and publisher
Business: Mai Chen, lawyer
Health and Science: Sue Johnson, Christchurch coroner
Sport: Jayne Parsons, Paralympian
Community: Lesley Elliott, founder of the Sophie Elliott Foundation who was also winner of overall Woman of the Year title.


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