Tuesday, 12 December 2023 15:55

DWN celebrates 25 years

Written by  Staff Reporters
Dairy Women's Network celebrating 25 years. Dairy Women's Network celebrating 25 years.

Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) recently celebrated 25 years with 70 of its members and partners, past and present, at an event at Red Barn, Waikato.

Jules Benton, DWN chief executive, says the day was one of celebration, acknowledging the founders and the establishment of the organisation in 1998.

“This is a salute to them and those that carried on their vision to today. We’re celebrating the silent achievers, the amazing women of the dairy sector,” she says.

MC’ed by Julia Jones, she reflected that there have been many DWN touchpoints in her life over the years.

“You look at the history of DWN, it was set up with the intention to empower women in business,” she says. “If you think back to 1998, women still had set rules and expectations about their roles, and they weren’t considered business partners – even if they were alongside their partner every step of the way.

“I went to the first conference, and it was the coolest thing I’d ever been to – and I became a proud sponsor. To me, DWN makes empowerment more than just a word, they make it a way of life.”

The celebration featured a selection of speakers who shared their insights about DWN and the sector.

Robyn Clements, one of the original four who launched DWN, says that to see the organization grow from 33 to 11,000 members is “so exciting and I’m continually inspired by the wonderful stories I hear”.

“These women are change agents across all levels. DWN brings positivity and energy and I get a skip in my step when I think about it.

“What started 25 years ago has become enduring. We’ve made huge progress, and we still have so much we need to do,” she says.

“There are still gaps between male and female incomes, especially if you consider the ‘voluntary’ hours many women contribute. We need to count and value everything we do. I believe that you need to make time to put the ladder down to help women up – something I learnt years ago from another amazing woman, Jenni Vernon, a Nuffield Scholar and rural leader,” says Clements.

The conferences were a constant theme as an example of the value that DWN brings to so many women.

Clements reflected that what she loves about the conferences is that there are no egos.

“There is so much connecting and networking, it’s a place where people are prepared to be vulnerable and share their wisdom. Everyone is welcome,” she says.

Trish Rankin, DWN chair, shared how, for her, DWN is a place for people of all ages, stages in and around the dairy sector and a place where people learn to dream.

“Having been a share milker for years and moved around the country – DWN was a lifeline,” she says. “Everywhere I moved, I’d find the local group to meet new people and make friends. But more than that, it helped me realise my dream, that Trish, mother of four, wife and share milker could become Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year and attend Harvard Business School. It’s wow, just wow!”

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