The past week has seen many more interesting and diverse events on the festival trail as La Fiesta heads into its final days, wrapping up on Sunday. As the festival co-ordinator I have even managed to enjoy a few events myself where I have been able to admire the skills and talents of others. That's what La Fiesta is all about, showcasing diversity right here in our backyard. I particularly enjoyed the Whanganui Regional Museum's presentation highlighting Whanganui women's contributions to the temperance and suffrage movements.

This has resulted in a long legacy of politically minded and active women seeking change from the ground up. With International Women's Day (IWD) celebrating its 107th anniversary this year on March 8, it's a good time to reflect on our successes, as well as acknowledging that there is still progress to be made.

Collective action and shared responsibility for driving gender parity are integral to many global activities celebrating IWD. Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist, once explained: "The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."

With its legacy beginning with the activism of the European and American suffrage movements in the early 1900s, IWD is also celebrated as a national public holiday in almost 30 countries around the world, including as a women-only holiday in some. It is a day that belongs to all communities everywhere — governments, companies, charities, educational institutions, networks, associations, the media and more.


With the World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings demonstrating that gender parity is over 200 years away, there has never been a more important time to remain motivated about pressing for progress. Hence, the official theme for the coming year is #PressforProgress.
There are many ways in which we can champion this.
Whether it is through a global conference, community gatherings, classroom lessons or dinner table conversations, everyone can play a purposeful part in pressing for gender parity if they choose to.

The team at Amdram Whanganui are certainly pressing for progress with their production of playwright Janet Shaw's Behind Closed Doors kicking off its season run this week, beginning Wednesday and running through until Saturday.
The Women's Network is pleased to showcase this important performance as part of our festival programme, as well as having the honour to be the recipient of the profits.
All funds raised will support us in our work to make positive change for local women, many of whom are survivors of domestic violence or relationship trauma. Janet Shaw says: "Behind Closed Doors is a term we hear often in the comings and goings of life, sometimes it's good, sometimes it isn't.
There is nothing funny about domestic abuse, but when I wrote this play I thought: 'no one wants to go to the theatre and feel totally demoralised' so I included, what I hope, is an awful lot of humour.
"As a survivor of abuse I didn't try to trivialise the total helplessness of someone in what can be only described as a tragic situation.
"It doesn't always have to be physical abuse; mental abuse can be as equally soul destroying. It isn't easy to escape from these situations and often I find myself smiling when I hear people say: 'He would only do that to me once' ... you have to walk a mile in someone else's shoes before you have the right to say those words."

Tickets are available at the box office of the Royal Wanganui Opera House, weekdays from 10am to 4pm. For those of you wanting to participate in the International Women's Day celebrations, join us on Thursday for a special gala night.

Remember also to visit us at the Women's Network from 10am to 2pm on Thursday where the Whanganui Regional Museum will be offering their Vintage Photo Booth. This is a great chance to make like a suffragist or suffragette and dress up in clothes of the early 1900s.
For more details you can email: or visit to find out what's happening over the last days of La Fiesta 2018.