Monday, 11th April, 2016

Equal access for women to learning, training, education, finance, ownership and participation in a community is the only real and sustainable solution.

The New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women Inc. (BPW NZ) held an open session of the Asia-Pacific Business & Professional Women’s Conference at the Stamford Plaza Hotel, Auckland on Sunday 10 April 2016.

Michael Barnett gave the following opening address:

My name is Michael Barnett.  I am CEO of the Auckland Chamber and Chairman of the Equal Employment Organisation in New Zealand.

It’s a pleasure to be in such good company.

My role is to make some introductory remarks, introduce our panel and provide a brief summary at the end of the session.

I overheard a conversation recently where reference was made to an imported product and its extremely competitive price. A comment was made suggesting that they too could be that competitive if they could exploit their workers the way that some foreign suppliers do. And there in lies a problem.

For those of us living in sophisticated economies we know the issues. We know that in some emerging economies:

  • Young girls make up over 60% of those not in education
  • 2/3 of illiterate adults are women
  • Women in many environments are denied access to learning
  • Women are denied access to credit
  • Women are denied ownership of property
  • Women are denied the same and equal rights as males

And we know it’s not right or fair but we sanction the actions of those brands involved and the countries they hide in. And we buy their goods and display their brands and give them a seal of approval for exploiting women and children.

And because it’s the right thing to do we make noises of disagreement and use words around equity and fairness and move on – job done.

And against all odds we also know that in many of these emerging economies we can witness the struggle of women entrepreneurs determined not to be marginalised, determined to participate in their economies, to create employment, to strengthen families, to be valued and treated as equals and be inspirational to other women in their communities.

And we sing their praise and admire their strength and suggest that we should help - and so again we talk of quotas, of allowing their products and services preference in government tenders and of mentors and matches to further enable their businesses.

Yet privately we know that quotas will deliver different classes of contribution that lack knowledge and experience and that preference will deliver the inexperienced into an environment where inexperience will guarantee failure.

And all the time we know that equal access to learning, training, education, finance, ownership and participation in a community is the only real and sustainable solution. And that being equal will stop the privileged path of participation their male counterparts have.

And we also know that the voice they need more than any other is your voice and mine to our governments asking them to reconsider trade agreements that exploits people and in particular women and to accelerate actions that will change the environments that women and other minorities share. There must be a better and faster way to address the issue and our panel will explore that this morning.

Ladies and gentlemen our panel:

Panelist 1 – ARANCHA GONZALEZ

  • Executive director of the international trade centre
  • Speciality in international trade and economics

Panelist 2 – ANNE TESCH

  • Executive director for Weconnect international located in Australia
  • Marketing and communications specialist

Panelist 3 – CAROL HANLON

  • Established belmont business enterprise centre in support of start ups and small business
  • Founder of other not for profit enterprises
  • Core purpose – develop competent entrepreneurs
For more information contact Michael Barnett, mobile: 0275 631 150.
Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Chamber of Commerce.
For more information contact Michael Barnett, mobile: 0275 631 150.
Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Chamber of Commerce. - See more at: http://www.aucklandchamber.co.nz/business-connect/news-advocacy/news/strong-mix-of-positive-and-more-of-the-same/#sthash.KDssTW0a.dpuf