Girl on Fire, run in Ashburton by the Agri Women’s Development Trust for Farming Mums New Zealand, took 60 women on a day-long journey focused on highlighting their purpose and realising their potential.
Trust executive director Lindy Nelson said it had worked with more than 1800 women in NZ primary industries in six years, developing their skills and confidence from grassroots to governance of large companies.
Girl on Fire was based on the three Cs – confidence, connected and contributing as wives, partners and mums in the community, in their industry and to food production.
“Once they are connected and understand their value women start connecting with people to contribute to their farms, communities and industry in a way that is meaningful to them,” Nelson said.
As she addressed the seminar she likened confidence to baking a cake.
“It’s step by step.”
Connected was about getting along and finding meaning.
“We are social animals, like a herd of cows or a flock sheep we follow.”
Finding purpose in life was not about the vague, fluffy stuff in the cloud.
“It’s about getting really connected with your ultimate goal.
“Women have huge capability in agriculture in NZ and agriculture needs you – you need to realise full potential,” Nelson said.
Fitting into a farming family was not always easy. It often meant recognising their own identities.
“Knowing where you fit and where you can add value is key to contributing.”
Contributing was about finding that leadership voice and that started by getting involved, learning new skills, banking those skills and realising you are growing from every new skill.
“Braveness comes from a cause that you are connected to and finding that leadership voice is often understanding that something is greater than your own nervousness.
“When you get connected and contribute you will find the strength will come from challenge and diversity.
“In a rural woman’s life you don’t need positional power to have influence or be successful – success comes from personal power and passion,” Nelson said.
“So think big and live that philosophy. Live your values and be generous with your time, skills and expertise and integrate that with time for family, who are also living their lives.”
Farming Mums NZ founder and administrator Chanelle O’Sullivan said the online community for rural women was about supporting, inspiring and connecting.
“If you love laughs, humour and creating new friendships and connections then come join us at Farming Mums NZ,” O’Sullivan said.
“Pretty much we are mumtrepreneurs working with, talking with and sharing with one another to build confidence and integrity in our lives.”
O’Sullivan urged women to map a life strategy.
“Your goals, desires, ideals and make a plan – do what you love, do what you are good at, have courage to be confident and find other women to help you on your journey.
“It’s a journey worth living if you find the worth and we are stronger together,” she said.
Farming Mums was set up as an online support group for farming women because of a need for friendship and understanding that could survive the barriers of rural isolation.
Since its inception in 2013 it had grown to near 9000 members and continued to grow by 50-80 members a week with a very active membership.
“It’s not unusual to have 150 individual posts and 600+ likes on one post in a 24-hour period,” O’Sullivan said.
The group covered rural women from all age groups, from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South.