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Tory Whanau, Wellington Mayor 17.05.22

Director of Whanau&Co and Wellington Mayor Tory, writes on the discrimination of women in positions of power and what it will take to overcome this diversity.

"For those of us in a position to teach, we absolutely must pass down our knowledge to the next generation. We must empower them to go down that difficult path for the betterment of our society. We must show them that it's possible to walk through the thick fog of adversity and come out stronger on the other side. It's not going to be easy - but we have an exciting future ahead of us."

Over the last few weeks we've seen several concerning stories of the abuse that many women in politics face. This has ranged from anonymous accounts messaging local councillors and calling them hurtful names, right through to our own Prime Minister receiving death threats. As a political candidate myself, while on the lower scale, I've also received anonymous abuse. And I am sure this is certainly not limited to the field of politics. Women in senior positions are constantly facing the wrath of those who still struggle with seeing women at the decision making table. Only yesterday we saw an insecure CEO make sexist and racially charged comments toward the successful and inspirational Nadia Lim. One can forgive those reluctant to put themselves forward for such roles - this behaviour is exhausting and doesn't belong in this century.

So how can we make it a safer environment for women and in fact other marginalised communities across these industries? I've reflected on what has given me the courage to take on roles such as Chief of Staff for a political party and potentially Mayor of Wellington. This may sound a little cliche but it has been due to the strength, courage and guidance passed down by those wahine toa before me. I had the privilege of learning from leaders such as Metiria Turei and Marama Davidson who always led with empathy and passion regardless of the abuse that was hurled their way. I've seen Golriz Ghahrahman fight for the vulnerable right after being told she ought to hang herself, and provide me with direct support when I've dealt with questionable behaviour. And of course, I've seen our Prime Minister lead with grace while holding the most difficult job of all.

There's a lot we can all learn from these amazing women. For those of us in a position to teach, we absolutely must pass down our knowledge to the next generation. We must empower them to go down that difficult path for the betterment of our society. We must show them that it's possible to walk through the thick fog of adversity and come out stronger on the other side. It's not going to be easy - but we have an exciting future ahead of us.

Written by Tory WhanauPakakohi, Nga Ruahine, Ngati Takou

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