Since 2010, the Agri-Women’s Development Trust has helped more than 4,000 women lead change in their farms, communities, careers and businesses. And that focus has only accelerated during the COVID-19 challenges for New Zealand and globally.
Chair, Linda Cooper, said the Trust’s work in empowering women to accelerate progress and change in the primary sector and rural communities “has never been more critical than now as we face a new world post the emergence of COVID-19.

“All of our unique development programmes have a face-to-face component and the lockdown called for a review of every course so we could continue to connect with, support and empower women through a challenging time.”
“We knew there would be an increased need for our programmes within the sector and also from new people who will be attracted to enter agribusiness as a result of the enhanced recognition of its importance to New Zealand’s health and prosperity.”
Linda Cooper said all programmes either continued to run, were postponed until a later date or set up for online delivery.
“The response of participants has been amazing, reaffirming the demand for what we do and the impact our programmes have for women on farm and in the value chain. All participants have been supportive and want to continue their development.
“Based on Government advice and health guidelines we will look to revert to face-to-face delivery when it is considered safe and when our participants feel safe to do this as the connection and networking elements of our programmes are vital. Many of our programmes have online content already and this will continue after Alert Levels are over.
“Like most people-facing organisations our priority, over the past six weeks and as we move into the future, is the personal safety of our staff, course facilitators and participants.
“Throughout the lockdown, we’ve been in fortnightly contact with our partners, participants, facilitators and suppliers to ensure they are aware of our plans.
“We have a group of 25 amazing facilitators situated all around New Zealand and it has been important to gauge how they, and our participants, feel about face to face contact as we move through the Alert Levels.”

Linda Cooper said the Trust had developed and supported the growth of national and regional networks across the primary sector.
“Quite often, our women live and work in relative isolation and a valued outcome of participation in our programmes has been friendships and networks which extend into normal daily life. This supports high-impact, diverse networks of women across the primary sector and it’s fair to say those networks are probably stronger now than they’ve ever been.”
In closing, Linda Cooper said the profile and role of New Zealand’s primary producers has never been more important.
“Our team is in daily contact with women who work in all facets of this country’s agribusiness sector and we’re constantly struck by the resilience, determination and focus of our food producers to maintain and increase its contribution to New Zealand’s health and economy.”
Registrations are open for upcoming Agri-Women’s Development Trust programmes and full details can be found at

Agri Women’s Development Trust key facts:

• The Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) was established in 2010 to empower women to accelerate progress and change in New Zealand’s primary sector and rural communities.
• The Trust’s vision is that women are vital partners in world-leading New Zealand primary industries.
• Since 2010, AWDT has provided business, personal, leadership and governance development and support to more than 4,000 people, in partnership with industry and government.
• Participants come from across the primary sector – including dairy, red meat, horticulture, arable, apiary, deer, goat wool, forestry, professional and community services.
• AWDT currently offers six development programmes – Understanding Your Farming Business, Wāhine Māia Wāhine Whenua, It’s all about YOU, Escalator, Next Level and Future Focus.
• AWDT is privileged to work with and be supported by partners ANZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, FMG, Agmardt, Ravensdown, Red Meat Profit Partnership, Ministry for Primary Industries, CRS Software, KPMG and Farmers Weekly.

Strategic Partners

Programme Partners