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Vanisa Dhiru


Vanisa Dhiru was appointed president of the National Council of Women of New Zealand Te Kaunihera Wahine O Aotearoa in 2017. Like Kate Sheppard, the NCW’s first president in 1896, Vanisa is leading the organisation through a period of significant change.

Vanisa Dhiru

The Gender Equal NZ campaign signals the organisation’s new focus and a way of working that embraces diversity and social media. While the call for equality that began with the suffragists and was taken on by the original members of the National Council of Women continues to be a key goal, today the focus is more inclusive.

Vanisa first became aware of gendered inequality as a schoolgirl, particularly after a trip to India during which she encountered pronounced inequalities between men and women. At school in New Zealand, Vanisa noticed that maths and science were very male-dominated subjects, something she hopes to remedy.

Vanisa has become a strong advocate for women’s rights, encouraging women to take on leadership roles. Her focus on human rights has involved working for Volunteering New Zealand and Fairtrade New Zealand, and she also helped set up a leadership programme for schoolgirls, ‘Discover’.

Explore more stories about women's activism in New Zealand


Images supplied by Vanisa Dhiru.

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Vanisa Dhiru, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated