A group of women recognised as our "modern suffragists" are coming together for an event celebrating the 125-year anniversary of New Zealand women getting the vote.

Attendees at the Women's Fund's retreat day were chosen after being put forward as those deserving recognition for the change they were driving in areas like domestic violence and social equality.

Networking and mentoring sessions at the Ellen Melville centre in Auckland's CBD will be followed with an award ceremony.

Organiser Dellwyn Stuart, who also runs umbrella organisation - the Auckland Foundation - said the event was about building a network of support around women doing something positive for their community.

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"What we set out to do was find women who really embodied the modern suffragist," Stuart said.

"Women who had seen something in their community that they weren't comfortable with, and they're rolling up their sleeves and getting on with trying to make change happen."

Jackie Clark, of domestic violence charity The Aunties, said she wasn't usually comfortable in a conference but had come to see the event as a way to represent the women she worked with.

"That kind of put it in perspective for me," she said.

"I basically went ... suck it up buttercup."

Jackie Clark works with women and children who've experienced domestic violence, distributing money and goods like those pictured. Photo / Supplied
Jackie Clark works with women and children who've experienced domestic violence, distributing money and goods like those pictured. Photo / Supplied

Clark said the suffragists provided shoulders to stand on —​ but we needed to do better with the baton we'd been handed.

"My view has always been that we have to fight now, for the rights of all marginalised people," she said.

For Mengzhu Fu, from the Shakti Family Centre, her relationship with the Suffrage 125 anniversary event was a "complicated one".

The 28-year-old is of Chinese descent and Chinese New Zealanders did not gain the right to vote until 1952.

While Fu recognised it as an "important historical milestone" for the recognition of western women's humanity, she said there was a long way to go to achieve equality between genders —​ as well as across ethnicities, religions, class and various gender identities.

Mengzhu Fu said she's happy the work being done by the Shakti Family Centre is being recognised. Photo / Supplied
Mengzhu Fu said she's happy the work being done by the Shakti Family Centre is being recognised. Photo / Supplied

Working in a slightly different space for women's empowerment is Angela Barnett, of Pretty Smart. Barnett talks predominantly at schools about self confidence and social media literacy.

The idea for Pretty Smart came about when Barnett was working at a kids' camp over in California several years ago. She noticed two trends in the young female attendees —​ an obsession with skin colour and body shape.

"Yes, we're telling girls they can do absolutely anything, and they can. But ... one thing that can still rip us down is this huge focus on our appearance."

Stuart hoped the event would provide an opportunity for the women to connect with one another, as well as put some "fuel in the tank" of those women receiving financial awards.

"For me it's not so much about a celebration of 'yay, we've arrived', but it's more a celebration of women's ability, their tenacity, recognising a need and saying, actually we're going to make this happen. "