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Manawatū women leaders pave the way in highly attended event

By UCOL on Tuesday, 09 March 2021

Vanisa Dhiru and Dr Farah Palmer joined entrepreneur Jacinta Gulasekharam at UCOL Public Talks

Three powerful Manawatū women leaders joined forces at UCOL Manawatū last night for an interesting and inspiring evening in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Te Aho Tāmaka leaders Vanisa Dhiru and Dr Farah Palmer joined entrepreneur Jacinta Gulasekharam to discuss how success is bringing others along with you, the key moments in their journeys, and their insights on a more equal future.
Co-hosted by UCOL Public Talks and Te Aho Tāmaka, the event attracted more than 150 attendees, which was not surprising given the calibre of the panelists.

Vanisa Dhiru is a champion for equality and was recently recognised in the New Year Honours for services to community and gender rights. Dhiru now holds a commissioner role with the NZ National Commission for UNESCO, is a former president of the National Council of Women NZ and holds advisory roles with NGO’s and government agencies.

Former Black Ferns captain Dr Farah Palmer led her team to victory in three consecutive World Cups. Since her retirement from rugby, Palmer has worked to bring about social and cultural change through education, strategic decision-making, and storytelling. She was the first women on the NZ Rugby Board and is Chair of the NZ Māori Rugby Board.

Innovative young entrepreneur Jacinta Gulasekharam, is the co-founder of Dignity, a social enterprise that has created access to over 30,000 sustainable period products to tackle period equity. She’s also a First Foundation mentor, campaign leader, Edmund Hillary Fellow, and was Women of Influence Young Leader Finalist for 2020.

The panel was a Q&A style evening, with questions coming from the eager audience. Topics ranged from barriers for women of colour to imposter syndrome, mentoring, how to deal with your values being challenged, and what the speakers learned about themselves from failure.

There was also discussion around how the COVID-19 pandemic has had a different impact for Kiwi men and women, across job losses, balancing home life demands, academic publishing, and support and sponsorship for sporting events. This kōrero tied in with the United Nations’ theme for this year, which seeks to shape a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was a powerful night for all involved, with many staying to speak with the panel after the event.

As Dhiru put it, “If you want to make change, follow your strengths. Go where you can make the most contribution.  Plant ideas around change, and look for places where you can be comfortable being your full self.”