Rural Women New Zealand’s (RWNZ) new chief executive says the organisation’s ability to provide opportunities to women sold her on the job.
Gabrielle O’Brien started in the role earlier this month, coming from a role as the national branch manager and operations lead at the New Zealand Law Society.
She also worked as chief executive of Birth Right New Zealand, a social services charity focused on single parent families.
She says the experience is relevant in terms of understanding how to work with members, make sure their voices are heard and represent what matters to them.
“I think one of our [RWNZ’s] main roles is supporting rural communities, another is strengthening and a third is connecting,” O’Brien told Dairy News.
“We have a role in terms of making sure that the voice of rural women and their families and their communities are heard.”
She says that RWNZ aims to ensure that it is providing connectivity in rural communities.
O’Brien says one of the things that appealed to her about the organisation itself was its goal of providing opportunities for women.
She says this is done through RWNZ’s own structure but also through its activator programmes run in conjunction with the Ministry for Primary Industries.
“When we talk about issues that are facing rural women, they’re probably issues that are facing rural communities generally.”
Among the issues the organisation is particularly looking to are digital equity.
“We often see, for example, technology as a solution, sometimes people forget that there’s large pockets of our country where people don’t have reliable internet so you can’t rely on that as the one means of communicating.”
She adds that the government, in particular, needs to put a rural lens on some of the issues it looks at. “That impact analysis at both the rural level and also in terms of gender is really important.”