Sunday, June 23, 2024

Looking at gender – a book review

In Creating Space – An Experience of Gender Jane Prichard describes in her own words how her advocacy for women and girls in New Zealand began.

The book illustrates how Jane established and supported women’s networks. It explains the importance of the new organisations set up as an action outcome of the Fourth World Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995. And it explains why she felt she had to embrace the United Nations High Commissioner’s call to report on how these new organisations had created space and how they were being maintained long term.

The media review for her book quotes Silvia Cartwright, ONZ, saying: “Jane Prichard’s achievements are significant, but it is possible that the greatest will be this chronicle of how she accomplished them. It is a remarkable story of ambition for women and dedication to their human rights.”

Jane describes how she founded new NGOs (Non-governmental organisations) to enhance gender justice outcomes, and informs us that these organisations have been able to maintain a vigorous program over many years to bring about positive outcomes that have made a difference to women and girls.

The book details her work as a leader, a mentor, and a risk-taker. There were many challenges along the way and Jane takes us on the journey of how she overcame them to succeed. Jane Prichard spent her early years on a poultry farm in Herbert, North Otago. In 1954 she began studying at Otago University, and later worked in Wellington for two years until her marriage to Owen.

In 1963 they moved to Auckland. When their two children, Hugh and Martha, were at a more independent age Jane was able to renew her membership of the Federation of Graduate Women and take up a number of roles in the Presbyterian Church.

Drive for human rights

For the next 30 years she worked tirelessly to make a gender equal society reality in New Zealand, with full human rights for all. Assisting women at the edges of society to make their voices heard has always been a key concern for her.

To further these objectives, she established the Bridgebuilders Network for Presbyterian and associated church women nationally and regionally, Pacific Women’s Watch (New Zealand) as a liaison to Asia-Pacific Women’s Watch, and the Asia-Pacific Regional Council for the International Council of Women (ICW).

These organisations have carried out a vigorous agenda of activity for over 20 years. Uplifting the principles enshrined in the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has been a focus.

She continues to act as an advisor and is a member of the ICW’s Committee of Honour. She also made it possible for the International Federation of University Women to begin its Network for Pacific Graduate Women.

Creating Space is available from Mary Egan Publishing. For further information please contact publicist: Margaret Samuels / Lighthouse PR / margaret@lighthousepr.co.nz / Phone 027 417 7211

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