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Auckland Sport and Recreation Women’s Networking Event

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Originally Published on AKTIVE.

More than 110 women sport leaders from across Tāmaki Makaurau attended the recent Women’s Networking Event, run by Aktive in partnership with Women in Sport Aotearoa, Ngā Wāhine Hākinakina o Aotearoa (WISPA).

Focused on inspirational leadership, the event saw interviews with Olympian Sarah Cowley Ross, Athletes Commission Representative on the New Zealand Olympic Committee, chair of the Athletes Commission and TVNZ Host on the Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympian Rebecca Dubber, bronze medalist backstroke at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games and Sport New Zealand Balance is Better Ambassador. Updates on key initiatives supporting women in sport were also given.

Jennah Wootten, Chief Executive, Aktive talked of her leadership journey and shared the most powerful pieces of advice she had received: “Jump at opportunities when they present, as they might never come around again.

She said: “New Zealand is not short of phenomenal women working within the sport sector. Being mindful of how much talent we have to draw on, the question we have to challenge ourselves on is what are we each doing to play our role in supporting the development and advancement of that female talent.”

This point was emphasised by Sarah Cowley Ross: “Consider how you can help other women and make sure that “you be you” – through that, it will be a win win situation for all.”

She added a tip on how she stays focused on physical activity with such a busy schedule: “Never a miss a Monday – start as you mean to go on!

Rebecca Dubber also shared her views on inspirational leadership: “It’s important to love what you do. Whether it’s in sport or business, align what you do with your values and beliefs, and create opportunities for others.”

Throughout the event, examples of positive and supportive opportunities for women in the sector were shared. One such opportunity referenced was Aktive’s inaugural Women’s Leadership Development Programme with a diverse group of 24 current and emerging women leadership from Auckland’s sport and recreation sector coming together as part of an 18-month programme. The programme’s environment for learning supports women to further develop their confidence and leadership competencies and step up and make an impact in the sport and recreation sector.

Highlighting the value of engagement, other opportunities discussed included Sport New Zealand’s upcoming Women + Girls Summit which will focus on the experiences of girls and young women; and the 8th International Working Group (IWG) World Conference on Women and Sport on 5-8 May 2022.

Pauline Harrison, Chair of the Steering Committee for the IWG World Conference outlined the content framework that has been developed by over 150 international members who are committed to advancing women and girls in sport and physical activity. The Conference will address the key global issues that impact gender equality in sport and physical activity. These have been identified and organised into five themes under the overall theme, “Change Inspires Change”: leadership; social change; active lives; high performance; and visibility and voice.

Following the Women’s Networking Event, Ms Wootten is encouraged by the input, feedback and future: “We are committed to working with others to empower wahine toa and strengthen women’s involvement in all aspects of sport and recreation. Inspirational leadership at all levels is a cornerstone of this journey.”

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About Aktive

Aktive is a charitable trust that has been established to make Auckland the world’s most active city. It is a key strategic partner of Sport NZ, Auckland Council and major grant makers and funders. In 2020/21 Aktive will invest more than $20m in a range of delivery partners, organisations and projects that will get more people actively recreating and playing sport in Auckland, with focuses on young people and priority communities. For more information visit

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