Thursday, 27 July 2023 09:55

Power to the women!

Written by  Staff Reporters
Dairy Women's Network chief executive Jules Benton. Dairy Women's Network chief executive Jules Benton.

Women in the dairy sector are being empowered to successfully farm for the future thanks to a network of Business Groups and a far-reaching leadership programme it drives.

Set up by the Dairy Women's Network (DWN), the Business Groups provide women dairy famers with a forum to tackle challenges in their farming business, opportunity to learn together, question each other's thinking and provide different perspectives and understanding, says chief executive Jules Benton.

"Through the Business Groups, women dairy farmers are being equipped to run thriving and sustainable farming businesses in a sector where there continues to be rapid change and the comprehensive Farming for the Future Leadership Programme that the groups are embracing teaches skills and shares knowledge."

She says the DWN, a nationwide organisation based in Hamilton, wants its farming members to be able to grow, adapt and change out of positivity, not because they are being driven by fear.

"Through the Business Groups and the Farming for the Future Programme our members can confidently build the skills, knowledge, experience and the networks to allow them to better manage current and future challenges so they can be successful no matter how the dairy sector changes."

Project lead Karen Bain says the key lessons the programme offers include: how to develop and manage a strategic business; navigate change; build and retain effective teams; identify new opportunities to provide additional revenue streams; and increase engagement with important audiences including regulators and consumers.

An online knowledge hub is a one-stop shop for participants to share information and insights as well as connect them with other rural networks.

Bain says the programme has been structured to be collaborative and agile, rather than being about processes. "From the outset, we have wanted the focus to be application of skills and knowledge that makes a difference - not just about ticking the boxes."

Supporting Bain in rolling out the Farming for the Future Programme is Rose Young, who is in her early 20s and studying agribusiness.

Auckland city raised, Young's first experience of dairy farming was when she was a pupil at Mount Albert Grammar and helped out on the school's farm.

As part of her degree she is required to do work placements and says she fell on her feet when the DWN hired her to work on the programme through the Business Group set up. A key focus for Rose is the Clifton Strengths Assessment that is embedded in the programme. This helps women in the Business Groups to understand what they are good at, providing them with coaching on their five key strengths to enable them to successfully lead and communicate, not only in their Business Group, but also on their farm and in their everyday family lives and their communities.

So far, five Business Groups have been established with each one reflecting the personalities of members and their local area.

They are located in Te Awamutu, Putaruru, Rotorua, Northland, and Gore.

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