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