Sport helps Inder in her international advocacy role

Brigid Inder, of Queenstown, with her old softball team during their reunion at the Rope and...
Brigid Inder, of Queenstown, with her old softball team during their reunion at the Rope and Twine last night. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Catching up with some old team-mates is a pleasant break from changing the world.

But for Brigid Inder, the lessons she learned with those friends on the field have played a part in doing the latter.

The 53-year-old has been in Dunedin this weekend and last night got together with a group of softball team-mates from the 1980s.

For the past 30 years she has been a feminist advocate, playing major roles in gender equality justice in armed conflict-ridden countries.

That has ranged from the domestic level in various countries to co-developing a revolutionary policy as to how the international criminal court should handle sexual and gender war crimes.

She has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Angelina Jolie and Sir William Hague and seen atrocities in the world's most war-ridden countries.

She was awarded an OBE for services to women's rights and international justice in 2014.

Closer to home that was recognised by the University of Otago, as she was presented with an honorary doctorate in law on Saturday.

She graduated from the university with physical education degree in 1987.

A game of sport may not compare in significance.

But the discipline needed to persist, train and understand both failure and success has proven valuable.

''That discipline, I think, has provided a steadying backbone for me in my work,'' Inder said.

''It does require a certain level of stickability and tenacity to work in pretty challenging environments, affected by armed conflict.

''Many of the countries I've worked in have been affected by armed conflict for decades and multiple generations; there's some tough environments.

''I think the work we did to try to open up and make the international justice process for gender-based crimes more accessible ... the ability to stick with that against the odds. I feel like that wasn't difficult for me and I put that down, partly, to my sporting background''

Softball had been one of many sports Inder played growing up.

A catcher and shortstop, she represented Otago from under-16 through to the under-21 age-group.

She also fitted in tennis and athletics, while playing hockey in the winter.

On the hockey turf she represented Otago at senior level for a decade, while playing for the New Zealand under-21 side and making the training squad for the 1992 Olympics.

It had been 30 years since she had seen many of her softball team-mates.

However, the death of team-mate Nukumea Te Raki (nee Vriaro) - a key part of Inder's Otago age-group and club sides - spurred them to get back together. It had made them realise life was precious and she had been looking forward to seeing everyone.

Coming home was something she tried to make a point of and always enjoyed.

''I've worked the last 15 years in conflicts and war zones.

''Coming home has always been a place to regroup myself and have some down time from some of the intensity of that work.

''So it has always been a place to recover and refresh myself, then go out there again.

''It's very grounding, I guess.''

After spending 15 years in the Netherlands, she is on a sabbatical at the moment.

She has travelled a lot in that time, and is based both in Queenstown and Phoenix, Arizona.

Her partner is American.

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