Whether it’s climate change or COVID-19, mental health or empowering minorities, fearlessly taking on important issues is the common thread among this year’s Women of Influence Awards finalists.

The awards programme, which is jointly presented by Westpac NZ and Stuff, attracted 339 nominations across ten categories. Entrants were judged on the strength, scope and impact of their actions, with 81 finalists shortlisted for the awards dinner on November 17.

While many finalists are at the forefront of New Zealand’s pandemic response, the six-person judging panel was equally impressed by the work Kiwi women are doing to combat climate change, improve mental health outcomes for young people and support the Muslim community following last year’s Christchurch mosque shootings.

Stuff CEO and owner Sinead Boucher says reviewing the Women of Influence entries each year is an inspiring exercise, but the calibre of the 2020 entries and the collective power of women’s stories, blew the judges away.

“New Zealand women see a problem, a need or an opportunity and apply themselves to creating something better, despite any adversity and uncertainty they come up against.

“In every story you hear the guts, stamina and conviction that have got these women to where they are today – making real change in the world,” says Ms Boucher.

Westpac NZ Chief Executive David McLean says the strength of this year’s nominations comes as no surprise given the resilience all New Zealanders have shown this year.

“From our conversations with tens of thousands of customers, we know COVID-19 has affected everyone in different ways, but we continue to be amazed by the spirit and can-do attitude of Kiwis. That’s clearly reflected in this year’s impressive finalists,” Mr McLean says.

“These awards are more a celebration of our high-achieving women than a competition, so all 339 nominees should feel incredibly proud of their accomplishments and we’re all grateful for the work they’re doing.

“The Community Hero category continues to be popular, with nearly 100 nominations alone, and we know that growing strong communities will be essential to our recovery in the coming months and years.”
Every year, a supreme winner is chosen from the ten category winners. The past two supreme winners were neonatologist Dame Jane Harding (2019) and family violence campaigner Jackie Clark (2018).

The Women of Influence 2020 winners will be announced at the Awards Dinner at the Aotea Centre in Auckland on November 17. For more information about the Awards, visit www.womenofinfluence.co.nz.