Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sad decline in Kiwi Country Women's Institute

The closing of the Methven branch of CWI after a long proud history is disturbing, even to a younger generation of women.
Laugh or mock as you may when you think of the CWI you can't help feeling that somehow the dissipation of the group signals a far more significant change in the rural landscape.
I've seen first hand from my mother in law how important 'institute' can be. It really does provide solid friendships and support in rural areas and a camaraderie that doesn't really exist between women past Young Farmers.
But why is it failing?
Yes there is certainly an older generation holding the fort at present and that may be enough for some young women to stay away, thinking, misguidedly, that it isn't for them and that their generation of farming women is not really understood. But that's too generalised and simplistic in my view. Generally the CWI branches try very hard to recruit new members.
Locally I know that many branch meetings are held during the day and that doesn't suit many. However with such busy lifestyles these days night-time meetings often don't suit either.
But I believe something else is going on here entirely. Growing up, our generation of gals were taught the feminist ideologies. The idea of being a good wife, a good business partner and supporting one another in isolated areas just didn't cut the mustard - we were the future leaders!
This is truly sad. If we could only get over ourselves and come together we could perhaps offer something to CWI and adapt its functions to our needs. In rural areas we need each other to survive. Our experience is unique to us.
Young Farmers had to change radically in the past five years to survive and it has done so successfully. Let's hope CWI can do the same.