Reading time
3 mins
May 08, 2023

New Zealand women in export trade

Understanding the barriers

BERL was commissioned by Manatū Wāhine Ministry for Women, along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) to research the barriers women face in the exporting sector in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Our report combined a review of quantitative data and qualitative research. Nearly 60 women, who own or lead exporting firms in Aotearoa New Zealand, shared their experiences and insights with us. The data showed that women are under-represented in the export industry – just 14 percent of our exporting firms are majority female owned, and only 16 percent are majority female led. The participants shared the key factors and barriers that underlie this including:

  • Socio-cultural factors which include conscious and unconscious bias, vertical and horizontal occupational segregation, and the disproportionate share of unpaid work borne by women
  • Access to networks within an industry, or in the export sector. Having access to the right networks can improve women’s access to finance, knowledge and information, international connections, shared learning, experience, and expertise
  • Access to finance and capital to grow their export business
  • Lack of experience in leadership domestically, and less access to mentors and advice early in their careers
  • Accessing up to date information on foreign markets, regulatory changes, and export requirements.

The research participants highlighted a number of support measures that they believed would be beneficial for the progress of women in the export sector. Recommendations included providing targeted support, facilitating women’s networks, improving overall inclusivity, and improving women’s access to finance and capital.

The report was launched at Parliament on 4 May 2023. Manatū Wāhine, NZTE, and MFAT, co-hosted the Women in Export Aotearoa event, bringing together renowned experts and successful wāhine exporters to discuss the progress and challenges for wāhine in the export sector. Consultant, Urvashi Yadav, shared the findings from the BERL report.

Minister for Women, Jan Tinetti, and Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Damien O'Connor, spoke about our status and progress as a nation, and the wider opportunities in the export landscape in Aotearoa New Zealand and abroad. Attendees also heard from successful wāhine in exporting firms. The event highlighted the importance of empowering women and breaking down barriers in the export sector, with speakers sharing valuable insights and stories of their own experiences.

Read the Manatū Wāhine press release here.

You can access the full report here.

Watch a recording of the full event below.