September 23, 2018

Women of Influence 2018, and my winning #suffrage125 essay


steffmetal women of influence 2018

It’s been one of those crazy weeks where a million things have happened, so you get a double-whammy blog post with two updates. It really should be three, but I’m going to try and talk about the National Writers Forum in another post.

I wrote a thing!

To celebrate 125 years of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, The Big Idea ran an essay competition examining the role of women and equality in the arts. My essay, The Damned Mob Is Coming For Your Words, was the winner. You can read it on The Big Idea.

The #WOINZ awards

women of influence 2018

Back in July, I mentioned that I’d been announced as a finalist in the 2018 Women of Influence Awards. These awards recognise and celebrate women from all walks of life who make a positive difference in the lives of their fellow New Zealanders. It was a total surprise and an honour to be considered a member of that club!

On Tuesday – the eve of #suffrage125 celebrations in NZ – my BFF Andy and I attended the gala awards dinner, along with the associated forum where several speakers from across industry and politics discussed how far we’d come since we became the first country in the world to grant women the vote and how far we still have to go in order to reach true equality.

Much of the discussion was focused around issues in business and the workplace – representation of women on boards, the gender pay gap, quotas (for and against). It was very interesting to hear how different companies and industries were working to create policies and build cultures that fostered equality.

One thing we definitely agreed on – equality and diversity are better for everyone. This isn’t just about lifting women up at the expense of men or anyone else. It’s about doing better business, creating better products, and getting the brightest people into the roles where they can make a difference. I came away thinking about the role my books and my story can play in helping to achieve this.

After the forum we had a long, luxurious lunch, followed by getting our makeup done at the makeup counters. I actually never wear makeup, but since I’m doing a lot more public speaking / appearing in photographs I decided it was time to learn how to do my face. So with Andy’s help and the assistance of a wonderfully patient makeup artist (“So you just add your mascara—” “But HOW?”), I chose my first ever makeup purchases!

steffmetal women of influence 2018

I got us a room for the night in a 2-star haunted hotel (seriously, it looks like something from Suspiria. I love it), and we dolled ourselves up and headed out to the event. I’ve never been anywhere so fancy. The food was AMAZING. The wine was free, we sat with a table of remarkable young women, including Ashleigh Smith from bullying nonprofit Sticks n’Stones, and sixteen-year-old Maddison McQueen-Davies who started a nonprofit to redistribute secondhand school shoes to kids who need them. Maddison won in her category.

The supreme winner was Jackie Clark from The Aunties, who do amazing work in the community for victims of domestic violence. Jackie was the right women to win and a true example of what the awards were all about.

I didn’t win, but that wasn’t even important. It was just an honour to be in the room with all that energy and all those change-makers. Also, there were five desserts and I ate them ALL.

Thank you NZ Women of Influence for inviting me along and celebrating the achievements of women and also for having five desserts.