It has been an absolute honour to serve as Chair of the Southern Government Women’s Network for the past two years.

I started the role with nerves, great enthusiasm and excitement, with the hope to build the Committee and develop the network across the public service in the South Island.

A few months in and we were hit with the surreal world of COVID. This certainly challenged us, both in our personal and professional lives. One of the greatest learnings from this was that we could still connect as a group across Te Waipounamu, across New Zealand, and internationally.

Our GWN Summits went online this year for both Wellington and Christchurch, which ensured women still had the chance to connect, grow and develop. Over the last two years, we have run online workshops, such as 'Thriving not Surviving' with Tina Milne and the Accessibility Panel event. Face to face workshops and events continued when possible including International Women’s Day, and 'Going from Ordinary to Extraordinary' with Marg Foster.

As we close out the year we welcome our new Employee Lead Network Regional Co-ordinator, Tammy Andrew and we farewell Karen Mora from the role of SGWN Co-ordinator. Thank you, Karen, for all your great work, your wonderful organisational skills and your eye for detail. Karen kept us on target and in line with what we set out to achieve and we appreciate all the work she did in the background to make our events look seamless.

I will continue to be active on the SGWN committee, but now hand the baton over to our new Chair, Jennifer Leahy (Ako Aotearoa) and our new Co-chair, Kirsty Paterson (Ministry for Primary Industries). SGWN is in good hands. We have a great committee dedicated to the uplift and support of women across the public service and I look forward to seeing what events and workshops we run in the new year as we look to expand these beyond Christchurch.

I hope you all have a fabulous summer, a great Christmas with friends and family and a safe and happy New Year with the hope of more freedom in 2022.

Jennie Farrar-de Wagt

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