Spotlight on women community leaders in new event series


Whanganui business owner and former elite athlete, Cath Cheatley, is the headline speaker at the first of a new series of events aimed at connecting women in the community.

Women Who Lead is a collaboration between Women’s Network Whanganui and Sport Whanganui celebrating the inspiring women in our community. The series launch will be held on Tuesday 19 September; a date chosen to coincide with the 130th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Former Olympic and Commonwealth cyclist Cheatley will ‘take a seat on the couch’ at the launch, sharing her experiences and insights both as a former professional athlete, and as owner of successful local businesses Cycle Sport NZ and Velo Ronny’s Bicycle Store. Cheatley is an advocate for getting people into cycling and has created several events aimed at boosting participation in the sport, including the Awa Cross series for all ages and the Bike Wise Month ‘Tour de Whanganui’.

Carla Donson, Manager at Women’s Network Whanganui, says the idea for the Women Who Lead series was born out of the Covid-19 lockdowns.

“Like many of us, the Covid-19 lockdowns provided me with some time to reflect on future directions and activities for the Women’s Network. Leadership has been a recurring theme and building on the success of celebrating women and skill sharing that has come through our festival programmes, La Fiesta and the Winter Wonderfest, seemed like the perfect foundation for showcasing women’s leadership.

“Partnering with Sport Whanganui felt like a good fit given the work that the team has been doing to promote governance skills and capacity across our community. I was excited to receive a resounding ‘yes’ when I extended an invitation back in March to develop and launch our Women Who Lead initiative,” says Carla.

“Being able to connect with diverse women, to hear their personal stories and the ways in which they have overcome challenges is inspiring for us all. Leadership comes in many forms, and it often takes us to unexpected places. Whanganui is rich with success, innovation and courage and I’m excited that Women Who Lead gives us an opportunity to celebrate that.

“Launching our speaker series on the 130th anniversary of Suffrage Day here in Aotearoa New Zealand also seemed like a fitting tribute to the world-leading herstory of this day. The extraordinary efforts of our suffragists is an important legacy to fulfil to ensure that all women and girls have the right to full participation in all aspects of life.”

Dinelle Saunders, Sport Whanganui Women & Girls’ Lead, says the kaupapa of the Women Who Lead series is about connecting the community through knowledge-sharing and networking, in a friendly, social environment.

“We are excited to bring this event to life to support not only our sports community, but to help facilitate those connections which are so important for women and girls to inspire each other to success.”

The family-friendly launch event will be held from 5.30pm – 7.00pm on Tuesday 19 September, in the Ammo Room at The Barracks Sports Bar.

More information about the event can be found on Dates and speakers for the rest of the year will also be announced on the Sport Whanganui Facebook page.

Article posted 12 September 2023 by sportwhanganui