A Minister of the Crown has paid tributes to the leadership qualities of Indian women in New Zealand and encouraged them to participate in the nation’s decision-making process through membership in various government bodies.
Indian women have the potential to be on professional, community and other boards of governance – a potential that they can achieve by working together, Ethnic Affairs Minister Judith Collins said.
She called for a change in the existing environment in which men from ethnic communities were predominantly on various government boards, committees and advisory groups.
Ms Collins was speaking at the inaugural session of a conference organised by the Women’s Group of the New Zealand Indian Central Association (NZICA) at Rydges Hotel in Rotorua on April 6.
Group Chairperson Ranjna Patel said that the one-day event was held under the theme, ‘Just Do It,’ and included workshops and group sessions.
“The Conference also marked the tenth anniversary of the Group,” she said.
Ms Collins described the group as a ‘great example of women coming together for mutual support to overcome barriers.’
She said that women of Indian origin had the right to aspire for leadership, not only within their communities but also across the country.
Women can learn from each other’s experiences by sharing information and working together for their common good.
“Building a strong network around you and drawing from the strengths and contacts of your peers will help you to achieve both your personal and your professional goals – whether it is assisting in finding a school for your children or helping you to find a new job or business opportunity,” she said.
She called on Indian women to remove barriers, understand their rights and responsibilities and ensure that their voices are heard throughout the country.
“New Zealand has a proud history of women standing up and contributing,” Ms Collins said, citing her mother and grandmothers as examples.
Ms Collins suggested that Indian women should participate in the Nominations Service run by her ministry, which screens applications for positions in various boards and committees coming under its jurisdiction.
“The Service is also an avenue for leaders within our ethnic communities to register their interest and availability to take up appointments on more than 400 state sector boards and committees,” she said.
Stating that ethnic women had a lot to offer to the progress of New Zealand, Ms Collins said that she was keen to see more of them (particularly from the Indian community) getting involved in taking important decisions.
The positions are an excellent opportunity to contribute to the prosperity and strength of New Zealand’s economy and communities, she added.
“It may be by sitting on the Parent-Teacher Association of your children’s school or joining an organisation like the NZICA Women’s Committee. By being involved at the local and personal level, you are walking on the stepping-stones that will take you to leadership roles in the wider New Zealand community.”
Tackling family violence
Ms Collins raised family violence as a challenging issue for women.
“Family violence affects many New Zealanders, regardless of ethnicity, financial status, education or place of residence. As women, we have the power to speak up, break the cycle and ensure that victims are able to get the help that they need and provide a safe environment for their families,” she said.
“We must stamp out family violence.”
Speaking earlier, Ms Patel said that legal statutes alone would not ensure the right place for women in organisations and the community.
“We must educate to shape new norms and behaviours. We must support women in becoming leaders in all fields of human endeavour, including education, sciences, culture, communication and information and media,” she said.
Another report on the conference appears under Homelink.
Read our editorials, ‘Gender equality vital for progress’ and ‘Women can tackle violence at home,’ under Viewlink.