Whanganui's "Winter Wonder Fest" runs over the next fortnight and is the little sister event to the month-long La Fiesta summer festival also organised by the Women's Network.
The festival runs until the end of July and kicks off this Saturday with the Anything Goes Second-hand sale at the Ladies Rest, 75 St Hill St.
The diverse programme is well-supported by ordinary women sharing their extraordinary talents. For example, Joamari van der Walt is an immigration lawyer by day and in her other time she enjoys wine, wine-tasting and visiting vineyards, so for the Winter Wonder Fest she is hosting an Introduction to Wine Tasting.
"I wanted to support Carla with the Women's Network and with the festival that she is running," she said. "She is doing really great work in the community and people need to know that, we need to create some awareness around that. She is like a fairy godmother to all women in need or anyone who doesn't have a mother or a grandmother to ask questions to."
Many volunteers are braving the spotlight for the cause and for Carla Donson, organiser of the Women's Network, after 18 years it is still necessary. Pay equity for women is still some way off and multiple studies show women are the most likely to lose their jobs in a pandemic.
"In New Zealand and Australia anywhere from 70 to 80 per cent of the frontline essential workers that were working during Covid lockdowns were women," Donson said.
"There have been some really interesting research studies done around the world about what happened at home during lockdown periods of Covid-19, and what we have seen is a reverting to those traditional gender roles where women predominantly have taken the role of being the carer in the home. Also those women who have had children at home have been predominantly the ones doing homeschooling," Donson said.
The Winter Wonder Fest started after Donson noticed women's "winter patterns".
"I noticed that there are some women that I only ever see from a support perspective during the winter months and we can put that down to seasonal affective disorder," she said.
"A lot of people feel completely okay during the rest of the year but the wintertime comes, we get the darker days, serotonin levels drop, people go into that natural hibernating rhythm and sometimes during those winter times they feel a little bit more socially disconnected."
So it's in the spirit of warming women's spirits that Van der Walt has chosen Sherries, Pinots and Port in her introduction to wine tasting being held on Tuesday, July 20, from 5.30-7pm - bookings essential.
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