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 Source: Women in Horticulture

Auckland, Monday 8 March 2021: Industry collective, Women in Horticulture, and the Massey Hort Society are hosting a livestream event tonight to acknowledge the vital role that women play in New Zealand’s $6 billion horticulture industry.

Speakers in a variety of senior management roles across the industry are set to share their experiences in the event timed to take place tonight at 7pm on International Women’s Day, March 8th. And with significant gender disparity still apparent in Aotearoa’s horticulture industry, the focus is on fostering female leadership.

A UMR study last year found that despite women representing 50 percent of workers in the industry, they held less than 20 percent of leadership positions, with women still missing from the top tables of many of our horticultural organisations.

Catherine Lewis, executive member of WiH and Director of Lewis Farms, says the livestream event is an opportunity for women to share their experiences and develop an environment that will empower the thousands of women working in the horticulture industry across New Zealand.

“Women have a significant contribution to make to the decision-making process at all levels of the industry. We’re keen to demonstrate this contribution and provide guidance and inspiration to women of all ages considering a career in the horticulture industry.

“Encouraging diversity of both gender and culture in roles across the industry is critical to ensuring the future of our industry,” says Lewis.

This year’s International Women’s Day coincides with a global focus on fresh produce due to the United Nations General Assembly declaring 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV). The United Nations places specific emphasis on the empowerment of women through education, recognising their role in sustainable farming practices.

The livestream panel discussion will examine the role of women in the industry, and in particular, the impact of Covid-19 on female workers.

“Many of the women working in horticulture are facing new pressures with working from home during and after lockdowns. Entertaining and home-schooling children, dealing with tighter household budgets and still trying to hold down a job are challenges that particularly effect our female workforce,” says Lewis.

“The IYFV is an opportunity to renew the focus on diversity issues and provide a catalyst for long term change across the industry. It’s a great time for innovative ideas to support, inspire and encourage our women at every level of the industry,” she says.

Paula Dudley, General Manager of United Fresh and Executive Member of WiH, says the emphasis from the UN on the empowerment of women in the fresh produce industry reinforces work already underway in Aotearoa.

“Initiatives such as WiH that are dedicated to raising the profile of women in the industry and to encouraging women’s participation from entry level to right through to leadership roles are the key to bringing about positive change in our industry,” she says.

Speakers at the livestream event include Brittany McCloy, Market Development for Onions NZ,Emma Clarke, Director at Woodhaven Gardens and Women in Hort Governor, Dr Jocelyn Eason from Plant and Food Research, Chrissy Stokes, Extension Design Specialist at Zespri and Erin Simpson, Chair of GrowSafe, Grower, and Capability Development Manager for NZ Apples & Pears.

Further events are planned throughout 2021 to highlight female workers. The HortNZ conference in August will include dedicated breakfast sessions for women with an address from Jan Tinetti, Minister for Women. WiH also supports a number of events around the country each year providing advice and assistance to women in the industry.

About Women in Horticulture

Women in Horticulture is a collective founded to promote the role of women in the New Zealand horticultural industry.

For more information visit