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20 February 2002
For immediate release

International Aid Organisation Meets in Hamilton

Rural women from all around the Pacific are gathering in Hamilton next week.

The women are members of international aid and development organisation, Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW), who are holding their triennial South Pacific Area Conference in Hamilton from 25 February to 1 March.

The organisation has 9 million members world-wide and is set up to support women who make a living from working on the land. Each year it distributes over a half million dollars in aid, to various projects that will lead to self-sufficiency and improved living conditions for women and their families. It has an advocacy role with the United Nations and has been a strong voice speaking out for the elimination of gender-based discrimination.

The Conference is being hosted by Rural Women New Zealand, and will focus on agricultural issues such as biosecurity and climate change as well as social issues. Keynote speakers include Merepeka Raukawa-Tait (National Collective of Independent Women's Refuges) and Dr Morgan Williams, (Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment).

Margaret Millard, Chair of the organising committee, says that one of the unique aspects of the organisation is the number of countries and cultures who belong to it. ''There will be women from as far afield as Tuvalu and Papua New Guinea attending this conference. Obviously the issues for rural women vary enormously from country to country, depending on their resources and cultural perspectives, but they are all committed to improving the opportunities for women around the world.''

New Zealand women have key leadership roles within the organisation. Jeanette Tarbotton, from Ashburton, is the South Pacific Area President and will be chairing the Conference. Taranaki woman, Val Tarrant, is the Chair of the Projects Committee who is responsible for distributing aid to the hundreds of communities who make applications each year. Isla McRae, Waikato, is a member of the international Agriculture Committee. All three women are ex-National Presidents of Rural Women New Zealand.

ACWW's World President, Hilda Stewart (Ireland) and Deputy World President, Ursula Goh (Sarawak) will be attending the Conference.

The Conference is being held at Novotel Tainui in Hamilton, and members of the public and the media are welcome to attend selected sessions.

Contact: Margaret Millard Isla McRae Novotel Tainui
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Sessions open to the media:
Monday 25 February 8.00pm Official Opening
Tuesday 26 February 9.15am Keynote Address: Hilda Stewart.
11.45am Keynote Address: Russ Rimmington - Working with Communities
Thursday 27 February 11.00am Keynote Address: Merepeka Raukawa-Tait
1.30pm Environment Session with Dr Morgan Williams and Guy Salmon, NZ Ecologic Foundation
Friday 1 March 10.30am Keynote Address: Rt. Hon Jenny Shipley -
'All Women are Leaders'


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