Supporting our rural women in partnership with Dairy Women’s Network

Image: Jodie Goudswaard and husband, Carl Goudswaard

The 15th of October marked International Day of Rural Women, a day that recognises the significant contribution that women make to agriculture and rural development, and an opportunity for us to acknowledge the many women in ag we work with.

Rural women in New Zealand and Australia make up a significant part of the agricultural economy, and we know through our own customers that many women are playing a huge role in the financial management of farms and a key part of the traditional farming partnership.

“Women often bring with them different perspectives and other life skills that contribute enormously to the dynamics of the agribusiness where they work. In NZ this is no different, with women being involved in a diverse range of agricultural roles, many balancing the demands of farm, family and community life. International Day of Rural Women gives us the opportunity to celebrate and encourage this valuable contribution for the future growth of agriculture in NZ and around the world,” says Charlotte Heald, Hub Leader for the Lower North Island for New Zealand organisation, Dairy Women’s Network (DWN).

Sara Crawford, DWN Convenor for Gore says, “Today’s dairy women are multi-talented, capable and influential in their dairying roles. It’s important to acknowledge how busy our role is on farm, in the office and as a busy mother trying to run the household as often this can be over looked.”

DWN Regional Group Convenor North Waikato ,Jodie Goudswaard, agrees, “Women have always played a big part in the agriculture industry but have been largely unrecognised. The old view of the ‘farmer’s wife’ has changed, and women are much more an integral part of the agriculture business – so to acknowledge this growing role is really important. I see myself as a dairy farmer in my own right; I am a director in our farming business and I take on the role of strategic manager. Using these statements helps to encourage other women to look at the work they do and recognise it for the huge importance it plays.”

Adding value to the business of dairy in NZ

Figured is committed to supporting rural women in our own backyard. We are a proud sponsor of the New Zealand Dairy Women’s Network, a community of women we are dedicated to adding value to the dairying community.

“Its purpose is to develop and educate women to add value to their dairy business. From the modules DWN develops and delivers (which are a result of surveys and identified needs of our dairy women) through to workshops that DWN partners run – it is all about developing and educating women,” says Goudswaard. “I’ve learnt a huge amount, from calf autopsy through to getting prepared for 1 June, and I have now also been given the opportunity to be part of the team to develop and deliver finance modules to other members.”

On top of education, DWN offers support for women in the industry, with a community where women can seek advice, skills, empowerment and friendship. Heald says, “DWN has connected me with numerous like-minded, inspiring and wonderful women who are often going through similar challenges and can provide valuable support. I have been made to feel welcome at every point of contact and encouraged in my personal development, learning new skills for myself and the benefit of my business. Being part of DWN has been an empowering experience leaving me constantly wanting more – More valuable learning and more inspiring connections.”

Crawford adds, “I first became involved with The Dairy Women’s Network when I moved to Southland with my husband in 2012. Being new to the district I knew nobody and because I worked full time on the farm I felt very isolated. Becoming a member has given me an opportunity to meet people and has encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone by attending events, whether it was by going along to a casual Dairy date (coffee group) or up-skilling by attending their many seminars.”

There is an online space where members can connect, and also 36 regional groups throughout the country who hold regular education and training sessions. “DWN does an amazing job of connecting women through a wide variety of regional events and specialised educational modules, run with the support of our network partners. DWN is constantly striving to reach more dairying women, deliver first-class modules and work towards being the number one dairying forum for women in the world,” says Heald.

A smarter way to manage farm finances

As part of our partnership with DWN, Figured is holding a free module for members called ‘Farming in the Cloud’ to provide advice around the financial management of their farm. The events will be run in collaboration with other DWN sponsors, Xero, Crowe Horwath and ASB.

Participants will gain clarity around the performance of their farming business through using online tools, and better understand the power of working in collaboration with their accountant and bank manager using real-time financial information. It will also include practical tips and tricks for using Figured and Xero, as well as creating and managing budgets and cashflow forecasts that all members of the farming team can access.

The module is an opportunity for farmers to speak directly with product specialists, get insight from rural accounting experts and gain confidence in managing farm finances online. Attendees will also have the option to talk to ASB about taking up a free Figured subscription for a year.

Figured, Xero, Crowe Horwath and ASB are all committed to lifting the financial performance of farming businesses in New Zealand and through our mutual support of DWN we’re excited to have the opportunity to provide a module that will help many farmers to better understand their finances.

Find out more about Dairy Women’s Network and their free Farming in the Cloud events