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Exploring challenges and opportunities for women in business

Sunday 24 September 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Business, Features, National, Weekend


Exploring challenges and opportunities for women in business
Cook Islands Business and Professional Women vice president Angela Wallbank (left), Ireland Ambassador Jane Connolly, BPW president Tessa Vaetoru. BPW/23092204

The first ever Ambassador of Ireland to the Cook Islands, Jane Connolly, has met with the Cook Islands Business and Professional Women (BPW) this week to discuss advancing women in business and professional arena.

Tessa Vaetoru, president of BPW, said: “The meeting served as a platform for meaningful discussions on various topics, including the role of women in business, the existing barriers they face and ways to enhance collaboration with Ireland.”

Vaetoru said Connolly shared some of the work that Ireland has done and is doing, which could be scaled here in the Cook Islands and would be beneficial for both our business and professional women.

“These include access to academic scholarships and opportunities, financial assistance to support skill development and training programmes, and with this potential support Ireland can contribute significantly to creating opportunities for the Cook Islands.”

Discussions also delved into the multifaceted challenges that women in the Cook Islands encounter, exploring the nuances of gender-based barriers in business and professional spheres, Vaetoru said.

“Many of our women find themselves in the challenging position of juggling multiple responsibilities. Striving to maintain a full-time job, simultaneously serving as the head of their households and pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams and aspirations.

“These multifaceted roles often impose significant financial constraints, particularly in a context where the cost of living has also been on the rise; the need for childcare, education and basic household expenses compounds the economic pressures women face.

“Yet, despite these obstacles our Cook Islands women exhibit remarkable resilience, determination and creativity as they seek innovative solutions to achieve financial stability and economic empowerment.”

These are domains where BPW anticipates to support women in their journey, whether it be in the business or professional areas, said Vaetoru.

She added a highlight of the meeting was the shared commitment in promoting and strengthening women’s roles in the business landscape and fostering international collaborations to advance these vital causes.

The meeting ended on a high note with BPW presenting a gift bag of locally made products from emerging local business Maruoi by Flora Pupuke-Robati.

BPW hopes to bring to their members and the wider community “more impactful and beneficial” programmes, and are committed to fostering positive change and providing a platform that offers valuable resources and enriching experiences.

The 2023 BPW executive members are: President - Tessa Vaetoru, Vice President 1 - Angela Wallbank, Vice President 2 - Pekalani Fisher, Secretary - Janette Oliver, Treasurer - Mata Puia, Executive Committee Members - Mel Tini, Courtney Napa and Donna Napa.