A line up of high profile speakers will be sharing opinions and research on gender equality this week at a conference in Wellington.

The National Council of Women is opening up its annual conference to the public for the first time as part of their 120th birthday celebrations.

"We've always had conferences with our members but because it's our 120th anniversary we decided we would go public, so we've got a really exciting programme ahead," Council president Rae Duff said.

Amelia Kinahoi Siamomua from the Commonwealth Secretariat was one of the speakers and was coming from overseas for the conference.


"We're quite looking forward to her speech, looking at democracy and gender inequality."

Another highlight would be a panel discussion about the media conversation around driving cultural change, with Massey psychology head James Liu, Fairfax central region editor-in-chief Bernadette Courtney, and special counsel Linda Clark.

"We've got a really good panel with Matthew Tukaki looking at productivity," Duff said.

She said Tukaki would be speaking about research showing more women in leadership roles would increase productivity and create more opportunities for women in New Zealand.

"We're looking, of course, at safety in our culture. Violence is still a huge issue for New Zealand."

About 180-190 people have registered for the conference. Before making the conference public, it would be a smaller event held for members of the Council, Duff said.

She hoped they would continue keeping it public in the following years.

"It's a way of raising awareness and trying to get more people involved. We've got a lot more speakers than we would normally have.


"We've been doing this work now for nearly 120 years. We thought our work would have been done by now but of course there's still a lot left to be done."

With events of the last few weeks, including the Chiefs stripper scandal, it was "even more important to talk about how we can drive this cultural change."

The conference will run from Thursday to Saturday.