NZ's 50 'women of achievement'

‘Inspirational’ figures recognised through Zonta awards.
The former Prime Minister is being honoured for her ongoing work promoting gender equality and women's political, economic and social participation. Photo / Jason Oxenham
The former Prime Minister is being honoured for her ongoing work promoting gender equality and women's political, economic and social participation. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Fifty Kiwi women have been recognised for their accomplishments in time for International Women's Day today.

Zonta's New Zealand chapter has highlighted 50 "women of achievement" for their work in fields which deal with some of the most serious issues facing women today.

 Louise Nicholas has taken a lead in the change of attitudes towards victims of sexual abuse, working with the New Zealand Police on how to deal with victims of rape. Photo / Greg Bowker
Louise Nicholas has taken a lead in the change of attitudes towards victims of sexual abuse, working with the New Zealand Police on how to deal with victims of rape. Photo / Greg Bowker

Among those recognised are former Prime Minister Helen Clark for her work promoting gender equality with the United Nations, anti-sexual violence advocate Louise Nicholas for her work with police on how to deal with sexual violence survivors and anti-domestic violence campaigner Lesley Elliott for her Loves-Me-Not programme in high schools.

Zonta is an international organisation which envisions a world in which women's rights are recognised as human rights and every woman is able to achieve her full potential, says New Zealand governor Dr Janette Irvine.

Nominations were received from a number of women's organisations and the 50 were selected by a judging panel.

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"These awards are a fantastic opportunity to recognise the inspirational women in our lives and to celebrate their contribution to making a difference to the lives of women and girls", Dr Irvine said.

Those chosen must be a New Zealand citizen or resident and must show a commitment to volunteerism and leadership which contributes to the empowerment of women and girls.

All 50 women will receive a certificate from Zonta recognising their work and their names and achievements will also be published on Zonta's website.

Local clubs will also recognise regional awards at ceremonies held around the country.

Lesley Elliott is the founder and current chair of the Sophie Elliott Foundation, the mission of which is to cause a profound shift in New Zealanders' attitudes towards relationship violence.   Photo / Supplied
Lesley Elliott is the founder and current chair of the Sophie Elliott Foundation, the mission of which is to cause a profound shift in New Zealanders' attitudes towards relationship violence. Photo / Supplied

Meanwhile, Labour leader Andrew Little said the Government must use International Women's Day to reassure workers that recent legal rulings on pay equity will be upheld for all female-dominated occupations.

"The National Government's record on pay equity is pathetic and its lack of early involvement in Kristine Bartlett's landmark case [in the aged-care sector] shows its parlous commitment to the issue," Mr Little said.

"[Today] is the perfect day for it to reverse that position, by giving a public assurance it will not amend the Equal Pay Act to extinguish the rights of any group or occupation making its case for equal pay."

Ten of the best

Judge and former Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright. Photo / Dean Purcell
Judge and former Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright. Photo / Dean Purcell

Helen Clark, New York: The former Prime Minister is being honoured for her ongoing work promoting gender equality and women's political, economic and social participation.

Louise Nicholas, Rotorua: Louise Nicholas has taken a lead in the change of attitudes towards victims of sexual abuse, working with the New Zealand Police on how to deal with victims of rape. She is also a leading advocate in raising the awareness of sexual abuse and the need for education and empowerment of women and young girls.

Lesley Elliott, Dunedin: Lesley Elliott is the founder and current chair of the Sophie Elliott Foundation, the mission of which is to cause a profound shift in New Zealanders' attitudes towards relationship violence. The foundation's Loves-Me-Not programme, aimed at Year 12 students, is a valuable resource in teaching young people how to recognise abusive behaviour.

Deborah Bush, Christchurch: Deborah Bush is the co-founder of Endometriosis New Zealand. ENZ has initiated specialised programmes, fostered research, and lobbied for better outcomes for girls and women with endometriosis in New Zealand.

Dame Silvia Cartwright, Auckland: Former Governor General Dame Silvia has served on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and played a major role in drafting protocol about how to reduce instances of gender discrimination.

Steve Chadwick, Rotorua: Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick established the first Family Planning Clinic in Rotorua and helped establish the city's first Women's Refuge and Teen Parent School. She had also been an advocate for sexual and maternal health.

Vi Cottrell, Kaiapoi: The co-founder of Trade Aid, Vi Cottrell has been committed to the social enterprise for over 40 years. Most craft producers are women and Fair Trade makes a huge impact on their and their families' lives.

Dame Miriam Dell, South Wairapapa: Dame Miriam has been and continues to be at the forefront of women's issues in New Zealand and internationally for over 30 years, promoting women's advancement and equal rights in society.

Vanisa Dhiru, Wellington: Serving a number of not-for-profit boards since university, Vanisa Dhiru is involved with organisations in the women's, ethnic and youth sectors. She is currently the vice-president of the National Council of Women of New Zealand.

Dame Margaret Sparrow, Wellington: Dame Margaret is a sexual health pioneer and a long-term advocate for women's rights to abortion and contraception.

- NZ Herald

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