In a year that’s seen plenty of pockets of uncertainty and challenges galore, we’re pleased to see so many incredible women recognised as finalists in this years’ Women of Influence Awards.
Five of the finalists — we’re proud to announce — are Global Women members!
This year’s finalist line up represents excellence in all industries, organisations and areas of Āotearoa — not to mention, a diverse array of women of colour and young wāhine. Fitting, considering the event is powered by our Partners Westpac New Zealand and Stuff who are committed to championing diversity in all its forms.
Recognising the achievements of women plays a key part in advancing women — and we’ve caught up with our finalists to explore what being nominated means to them.
Diversity: Angela Meyer, consultant and founder of the Gender Justice Collective
Angela Meyer has been recognised for her involvement in the newly-established Gender Justice Collective, an organisation that’s on a mission to have our nation lead the world in gender equality. Two key focus areas are championed by the collective. The first is the #YouChoose2020 survey and WeChoose2020 metric, designed to measure how well political party policies considered gender equality in 2020’s election. This spurred the petition for a National Women’s Health & Wellbeing Strategy and Action Plan to be implemented — a call to action which is now deservingly in the hands of the government.
For Angela, the recognition comes as a promising signal to the vision she, the Gender Justice Collective, and we here at Global Women, promote. She muses that it’s “a signal that all the advocacy that the Collective have been doing to ensure Aotearoa is the most gender equal country in the world is important to a wider community — we have only been going for 18 months.”
She adds, “there has been a huge amount of energy and drive behind the Gender Justice Collective and in a very short space of time we have delivered a lot of mahi — here are some highlights. It is a bit rough as we are all working fulltime in other roles and we do this voluntarily. Which in an of itself is a feminist issue.”
Public Policy: Fiona Michel, Director – Sector Engagement, Workforce and Welfare – COVID-19 Vaccination Immunisation Programme, Ministry of Health
The work done surrounding another important topical issue — the COVID-19 Vaccination and Immunisation Programme — is reflected again this year, with Fiona Michel acknowledged for her game-changing contribution as the director of sector engagement, workforce and welfare for the roll out of Aotearoa’s vaccinations.
As well as the immediate impact of keeping kiwis safe, her work has contributed to training nearly 15,000 new vaccinators this year. The investment towards Aotearoa’s future that Fiona has been involved in doesn’t stop there: introducing legislation to enable a legacy role to significantly and sustainably increase the number of Māori and Pacific vaccinators in Aotearoa New Zealand is also part of the mahi.
“The COVID-19 Vaccination and Immunisation Programme has been a once in a lifetime opportunity to step up and support New Zealand to safely return to living the lives we love. It has been enormously rewarding to solve unsolvable problems in timelines generally unheard of in the public sector.”
Public Policy: Fiona McTavish, Chief Executive, Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council
Also recognised for her work in shaping prosperous public policy is Fiona McTavish, CE of Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council. We’re all aware of the threat that Covid can pose to women’s advancement, so Fiona’s dedication to women in business, in leadership roles and in the regions, is pivotal to the post-Covid chapter.
“My hopes are that women can continue to rise up in their career journeys, support others to do so also and be supported by employers who value diverse thinking, inclusive cultures and flexible ways of working.”
“I am humbled to be a finalist and feel truly privileged that my staff nominated me for this award,” shares Fiona, “my congratulations to all finalists for these awards and I look forward to hearing and connecting with these women.”
Business Enterprise: Chloe and Florence Van Dyke, Co-Founders, The Chia Sisters
The co-founders of The Chia Sisters, Florence and Chloe van Dyke, are taking their well-deserved place representing young women among this years’ finalists. Their recognition for their sustainable business mindsets, through their solar-powered and climate positive (not to mention living wage-supplying, and B Corp certified) drinks, shows an important celebration of a new era of sustainable, considered production and consumption.
Status quo challenging isn’t simply a key theme in their business model, it’s also part of their outlook on success and leadership.
“It’s a proud moment for us because it shows the definition of what it means to be a good business leader, a woman of influence, is changing,” shares Florence, also on behalf of Chloe who’s currently enjoying maternity leave.
“There will be others that have grown a business faster than us and with more profits. But we have prioritised having a positive impact on the environment and on people as our business grows. To be celebrated for that means a lot to us.”
As for the sisters’ advice to young wahine wanting to treat a similar path?
“Be bold in your vision and do not feel you have to follow the status quo. reach out to those that you admire, your greatest role models. You will be surprised how often they are willing to connect.”