Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology will celebrate its commitment to women's rights and gender equality in the workforce at an event in Rotorua tonight.

In December, Toi Ohomai became a signatory to the United Nations Women's Empowerment Principles, the only tertiary institute to join 55 organisations around the country who are committed to making the equal treatment of women and men a corporate priority.

UN WEPs are a global initiative to achieve gender equality in the workplace. More than 1700 organisations have signed up to the initiative globally. The New Zealand operation began in 2012.

Ana Morrison. Photo/File
Ana Morrison. Photo/File

Toi Ohomai strategic partnerships and Maori success executive director Ana Morrison said the institute was committed to making gender equality a priority issue and was looking forward to celebrating this initiative.

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"We've made an excellent start in our new merged organisation – with women making up half of our leadership team – and now we want to continue to develop the goals we have set."

Former Rotorua local and award-winning Black Fern Shannon Willoughby will be keynote speaker at the event.

Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in Rotorua.
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in Rotorua.

Willoughby, 36, is an eCommerce entrepreneur and founded NZ Aromatherapy. She is also a qualified commercial pilot and flying instructor but by the age of 32 was told she would never fly again after suffering two strokes.

Not taking 'no' for an answer, she was able to reclaim her medical certificate 18 months later and also returned to rugby. Willoughby will talk about her experience of breaking barriers, both on a personal and business level.

UN WEPs proposes a number of goals that organisations can work towards, including establishing high-level corporate leadership for gender equality; promoting education, training and professional development for women; and measuring and reporting on progress.

Date: Wednesday 21 February, 5.30-7.30pm
Venue: Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, Mokoia Campus, Rotorua – L Block (L201)
Keynote speaker: Black Fern, Shannon Willoughby