International Women's Day 2020 - Interview with Annah

Annah Stretton
06 Mar , 2020

The theme for International Women's Day 2020 is #eachforequal - Below are some thoughts from Annah about IWD, RAW and Business.

What does #eachforequal mean to you?

Collective individualism has been at the heart of the work that I do daily with the many presentations that I am invited to do across very diverse groups in NZ. IWD  provides another powerful platform to activate these conversations, create awareness, breakdown stereotypes and advance towards true inclusion throughout a wider sector of the community. The women I work with inside and outside the prisons will never experience true inclusion given the bias, fear and misunderstanding that many of us continue to display. More than that, many of the RAW women are not looking to change their lives they have been inter-generationally normalised into lives of drugs, violence and crime and just as I suspect that most of us would not welcome a 6 months residence in the Mongrel Mob headquarters because we know that we would never fit, never feel comfortable or never be truly accepted, the same is true for RAW women. It is a massive journey of time and a very purposeful and achievable WHY to undo their normal and it will never work until they are “ready” to make change.

What's the most important piece of advice you'd give a woman thinking of starting her own business?

Love what you do and the rest will fall into place. If you are not passionate about your product or service you will rarely get the great outcomes. Passion is an awesome success motivator, it attracts capable people and continually opens the door of opportunity.

How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

Very important, for years I was driven by the material possessions that I strove for, these were my bench marks of true success and happiness and for 25 years I worked this way. Today after 6 years as CEO of RAW  I can truly say I have found a balance, calm, capability and “joy” that is unmatched to date in my life’s journey. This has come about through RAW, where human capital has become my measure of success, how many women I can get to “thrive” not just “survive” through the inter-generational journey of disruption - this is now key to my success.  More of us need to look at the greater contribution we can make to one another rather than the soloed approach we are taking to our lives. We need to reach out to amplify others. There is no greater sense of purpose than to remove the focus off oneself . 

What do you think is the biggest issue facing women today?

Low self esteem, lack of self love and self belief, doubt, failure to get off the starting blocks and way too much stress and anxiety. We are a community that is more likely not to cope, whilst I have never been a huge advocate of the British “stiff upper lip” and certainly see some of the challenges this has caused in the male population today. I do believe that we all have “superpowers”,  all have an ability to maximise our lives to get the most “joyous“ outcomes, to focus on the positive, what we can do, not what we can't. Joy needs to be our first bench mark of success not money, until the jobs worth more than the money it will never pay more. Do something you love and you will never “work” a day.

Can you name a female role model and how she has inspired you to be where you are today?

No one role model in particular. I meet many people that speak to me and with me and I am constantly inspired from them to learn more. I am so aware of how finite my abilities are even with the huge inroads RAW has made and the courage we ( me and my sister Rebecca) have taken to advance this model. I am a big fan of the work that Dr Paul Wood has chosen to do inside and outside the prison, he is the relevance that the girls need to activate a life change and I aspire to speak with as much capability as he does. Paul has inspired me to do masters at the Waikato University this year, to back the 6 years of RAW work up with academia. My Masters will look at the legalisation of methamphetamine. I have identified the huge problem that this drug is in the economy and the senselessness of letting the gangs control it, generating the addiction, violence and misery in order to return the 600 million of un-taxed revenue that is thought to be earned yearly.

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