Home' NZ Dairy Farmer : October 2010 Contents 40 The Dairyman OCTOBER 2010
ANATIONAL initiative to develop
leadership, governance and business
capabilities for women in the rural
sector was launched at Parliament recently
by Agriculture Minister Hon David Carter.
Developed by the Agri-Women's
Development Trust, the Escalator pro-
gramme is the first of two programmes cre-
ated as a result of extensive research into the
role of women in the rural sector and low
participation rates at the leadership and gov-
The Agri-Women's Development Trust
was formed last year by Lindy Nelson, an
Eketahuna director and farmer, as part of her
participation in the Kelloggs Rural
Leadership Programme and her research on
the barriers rural women face when wanting
to take their existing skills to a new level.
The trust chair, Lindy Nelson, said the
programme would capture a vast source of
untapped potential in rural women. "It's not
about getting more women on boards, but
about harnessing untapped potential and tal-
ent of rural woman and using this to address
the challenges facing rural business,
communities and people."
The programme aims to create prospective
future leaders with the necessary skills and
capability to govern and lead rural organisa-
tions and communities.
Mr Carter said the programme reflected
the best tradition of pioneering kiwi women.
"The trust has identified an issue, drawn up a
plan and followed through with practical
action. I look forward to seeing the first grad-
uates succeed and go on to encourage and
inspire other women to benefit our primary
industries and country."
"The business of agriculture needs the
skills these women have developed, which
include complex commercial and financial
skills, understanding of global markets, the
ability to set strategy and deliver on it,
resilience and adaptability," Mrs Nelson said.
Eleven women selected from throughout
New Zealand for the inaugural year-long
Escalator programme attended the first of six
bi-monthly courses in Wellington last week.
They will also take part in individualised
distance learning and professional
development by learning first-hand from
industry leader mentors from participating
organisations including Dairy NZ, Landcorp
Farming, meat companies and local
"Each woman is mentored by an industry
representative. We have had huge support
from people prepared to put time aside to
assist our women's professional develop-
ment," Mrs Nelson said. "Interestingly, a lot
of our mentors are men who recognise the
potential for a higher level of involvement by
"Escalator involves small numbers with
the ability to make a big impact in the agri-
cultural sector. It builds on the skills that
women have accumulated within their busi-
nesses and communities and revives often
latent skills gained earlier in their lives."
This year's participants include women
who, prior to entering the rural sector, had
careers in veterinary practice, law, farm advi-
sory, writing and nursing. Others have inter-
national experience or degrees in languages,
commerce, communication, education and
food technology. "These are all women who
have the potential to contribute significantly
within the sector and the communities they
live and work in," said Mrs Nelson.
"Their lives invariably combine support-
ing a farming business, motherhood and
extensive community involvement. This pro-
gramme addresses barriers rural women face
in taking their skills to the next level."
The programme is strongly supported by
the Silver Fern Farms educational trust,
Burnside Hart, Beef + Lamb, Lottery Grants
Board and Asure Quality. Interest in and sup-
port for the programme had been strong from
across the agricultural sector.
The trust's second programme, First Steps
will be launched early next year. This com-
munity-based programme is a two-day
exploratory workshop which aims to give
women greater confidence and insight into
the value potential of their skills and a sense
of their potential.
Leadership programme for rural women launched
From left: Balclutha dairy farmer Andrea Shore, Fonterra director John Monaghan,
chair of Fonterra's governance development committee Campbell Shearer, Collingwood
dairy farmer Sue Brown, and Hawera director and businesswoman Hinerangi Edwards.
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