Celebrating the theme #eachforequal, Kāpiti's International Women's Day event hosted more than 200 people exploring what equality means to Kāpiti, its people and businesses.

Co-hosted by the Kāpiti Chamber of Commerce, its Women in Business Committee and Kāpiti Rotary, the internationally recognised event featured Karen O'Leary, well-known actor and comedian, Helen Turnbull, owner of Paraparaumu Beach restaurant 50-50, and Victoria Gaither, a respected international journalist hailing from Washington DC but living some of the year in Foxton Beach.

The event was held at Southwards and raised $1000 for the Kapiti Women's Centre.
Accepting the donation, Kapiti Women's Centre manager Louise Waterworth said she looks forward to the day the centre's services are redundant, but says the need is currently growing.

The Kāpiti International Women's Day event. Photo / Captured By Friday
The Kāpiti International Women's Day event. Photo / Captured By Friday

"Kapiti Women's Centre continues to meet the demands on all the services offered at the centre to our women and children in the community.

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"I turn up to work each day because of the difference we strive to make for the needs of our community every day.

"For me, #eachforequal means empowering women in all areas of their lives and in our communities. I believe it is possible through support from all members of our society.

"It's not just a women's issue, it's a human issue and it will take both men and women to commit to gender equality to achieve this."

Kāpiti Chamber of Commerce chairwoman Jacinda Thorn said the event showcased how equality can be practised in our businesses and community.

"One consistent theme was ensuring there's room at the table for each other — whether that's as an employer, employee or in the community.

"It was inspiring to hear from each of our speakers about their own personal journey and how they're practising equality in their own day-to-day lives."

Victoria Gaither, MC for the event, has travelled New Zealand interviewing women for a digital photo exhibition, and said if women help other women succeed, we all benefit.

Sharing about her time in New Zealand, Victoria said, "One thing I always feel in this country is that women voices are heard and I commend you for that.

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"#eachforequal means I have the ability to help create opportunities, directly or indirectly, for women around the world by promoting equal values across the board, at home, in the workplace, in my community, and in everyday life.

"If all women are equal it makes it easy for every woman to achieve."

After catering the lunch for the event, Helen shared her experience being a female chef in a largely male industry.

"What I've come to realise about business is that the challenges are always more about the people and relationships than they are about the tasks of the job.

"The phrase that often comes to mind is, He aha te mea nui o te ao? (What is the most important thing in the world?) He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata (It is people, it is people, it is people).

"The proverb has a much bigger context than us simply as individuals.

"This is a story about our whakapapa. This means it is important to acknowledge the journey women have been on socially and professionally up until now.

"I believe it's not the gender of the leader but the actions of the leader that will make a difference.

"If my workers are able to apply these learnings as they develop their careers, then I think our cause today will cease to exist, because we will have achieved our goal of each for equal."

Also sharing her background, Karen entertained the audience with stories about working in early childhood education and becoming an actor.

Concluding with a rap, Karen reminded us that while academic success is great, it's also important to live a holistic life that involves leadership and learning about the world around us in order to create 'positive, powerful and proactive change'.