A Changing Order: New Zealand Womens Lives

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Printed and widely distributed, the address provided a link with the past and a programme for the future. Sheppard made a fervent plea for equality, urging that neither the accident of birth nor the incidence of sex should 'bar the right of each human being to self-development', and welcoming the recent extension of the franchise and eligibility for Parliament to women in many countries.

Even reform of the electoral system through proportional representation found its place. In considering the structure of NCW itself, Sheppard was equally far-sighted. Multiply the societies, she said, link them through a newsletter, enlist younger members, and through ICW co-ordinate with women in other lands.

From the start, the revived council, though appreciably less radical than its predecessor, was equally political in its aims.

Gender equality in New Zealand

The conference set up an Advisory or Intelligence Committee of Wellington members to advise on 'Parliamentary business requiring immediate attention'—the forerunner of the Parliamentary Watch Committee. Later the aim was to increase the number of women on statutory bodies and in local and central government. The rights of the wife were an ongoing concern of NCW from the first call for economic independence in to the suffrage anniversary in Equal rights in the guardianship of children was one issue, equality in divorce law and adequate sustenance for the divorced wife another.

By the early s, concerns focused on the security of de facto wives when a relationship ended. Closely linked was concern for mothers and children. From the turn of the century, NCW constantly scrutinised the provision of maternity services, whether in hospital or by midwives at home, and supported the work of the Plunket Society. Given the wide range of organisations in NCW, issues of reproductive rights were inevitably sensitive.

While the council approved family planning within marriage in , debate continued for 30 years on the availability of contraceptives to young people outside marriage. Women's health was a topic of concern in the early s, and NCW was active in promoting well women clinics and screening for breast and cervical cancer. NCW's initial interest in education continued unabated, though specific causes varied over the years. In the case of women teachers, the main issues were equal pay, opposition to the bar against married women in the s, access to principalships and positions of responsibility in co-educational schools, and the impact of devolution on women teachers.

In the case of pupils there were repeated calls for smaller classes and better facilities. For decades the council demanded more emphasis on domestic training for girls; by the s the call was for their improved access to traditionally male subjects, such as science and maths, and the teaching of home management to boys as well as girls. In the paid workforce, women's equality was a steady aim.

In the Depression, NCW repeatedly urged the government to assist unemployed women. During World War II the focus was on voluntary patriotic work, but after the war it turned to equal pay and equal access to top positions. NCW participated fully in the campaigns leading to the Government Service Equal Pay Act and the Equal Pay Act , and supported initiatives for pay equity and equal employment opportunity. NCW never hesitated to take a strong stance on moral issues affecting the community as a whole. There was a long-running debate on the treatment of 'degenerates' and the 'feeble-minded'.

Other issues included support of moderate censorship, and opposition to pornography and to the abuse of alcohol and other substances. In the s and s, environmental issues became increasingly important; in the early s the level of violence in society was a prime concern. As its volume of work increased, NCW developed a more elaborate structure: a permanent office in Wellington to provide administrative assistance for the Board of Management; a Parliamentary Watch Committee to keep an eye on legislation before the House; standing committees in special areas such as health, education, social welfare, mass media, child and family, to reinforce the work of the branches; and the inclusion of nationally organised societies as full members of the council.

It experimented with various means of liaison—a page in a women's magazine, a separate bulletin—until in a solution was found in the informal, cyclostyled 'Circular', crammed full of information, sent monthly to each member of each branch. The means of political activity also changed over the years.

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Petitions, deputations and telegram campaigns gave way to carefully prepared submissions to relevant authorities; from on, these came from NCW as a whole rather than individual branches. On issues of special concern, such as equal pay or the changing role of women in New Zealand society, NCW published the results of its research. International links were maintained through ICW. While it has tended to be disparaged by both the very conservative and the very radical, the National Council of Women could still claim to be the voice of thousands of women in New Zealand as it approached its centenary in Nationwide fundraising was complemented by a generous government grant, resulting in a substantial investment to provide ongoing funds and sustainability for the administration of the organisation.

The Annual Reports early in the new century tell a story of indefatigable work monitoring debates, canvassing informed opinions and making carefully prepared submissions to relevant authorities on the core issues of health, social justice and equality. Some member organisations and branches went into recess, and many traditional functions fell to fewer women.

NCWNZ was nimble in meeting these trends, with frequent tweaking of the Constitution to accommodate individual as well as representative membership. Vital external collaborative relationships were maintained to accommodate the changing nature of engagement between government and the voluntary sector, and NCWNZ led strong alliances in overseas forums.

The CEDAW process has been a huge vehicle in building relationships with non-members who have been involved in collecting data and sharing their expertise with us. The value of this international work was recognised by government funding assistance, but it was important to make it a process the membership could relate to as well:. The Board of Management is committed to growing the organisation to fulfil not only the expectations of our members, but also those of the wider community. NCWNZ had long been aware of the risk of spreading itself too thinly when endeavouring to maintain a high standard of responses to myriad consultations.

The Board established a firm strategy of two yearly rotations of targeted foci, which addressed themes such as social cohesion, sustainable development, freedom from violence, and pay equity.

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During this period the internal management of the organisation grew increasingly complex. The rapid adoption of digital technology required multi-platform engagement, and this in turn required appropriately qualified staff, on salaries commensurate with their expertise. The reduced income from the Centennial Fund investments compromised funding for administration costs; at the same time, the Ministry of Social Development contracts and other annual grants became highly contestable.

To increase credibility and success in funding applications, in NCWNZ successfully completed registration to gain charitable status under the Charities Act The negative impact of this decision on funding applications and on income tax liability seriously threatened the financial viability of the organisation. This decision was also an important precedent for other charities. Although this six year interregnum of funding uncertainty took a toll on the momentum of the organisation, the board stoically continued to work for the empowerment of women and to keep the vision of NCWNZ and the ideals of its members paramount.

Gender equality in New Zealand - Wikipedia

The decision was made that over , NCWNZ would refocus resources to address the culture of gender inequality in New Zealand, and to research and monitor institutional and unconscious bias in four key areas: safety and health, economic independence, education, and influence and decision-making.

NCWNZ had always constantly examined its strategic directions and capabilities. This has been identified [15] as being where the external pressures of contracting and grants drive governance and organisational changes, including the role of paid staff. In , after nearly two years of debate around the concept, NCWNZ members accepted a constitutional change mandating that the six members of the board were to be elected from a shortlist of applicants selected on skills-based criteria, rather than the traditional process of electing board members from candidates who had leadership experience within the organisation.

Further constitutional changes created a national individual membership category, enabling direct personal electronic engagement as an option to physical branch membership. These substantial changes were potentially challenging to the collectivism and collaboration characteristic of NCWNZ.


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However, strategies of positive and targeted engagements and social media activity built diverse and inclusive relationships with a much broader community spectrum. We are fighting for gender equality because we want all New Zealanders to have the freedom and opportunity to determine their own future. Discrimination can be more subtle than it once was. For some, gender inequality is more obvious.

For all of us, the job is not done. By 'the Unfit' was meant the mentally, physically and morally weak, including the idle wealthy.

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Rape is not a grounds in itself for abortion in New Zealand. The equivalent charge of common assault has a maximum one year penalty and is covered by 'bail as of right' provisions. The Law Commission reviewed the Crimes Act in and recommended a repeal of this law and suggested that the maximum penalty for common assault be increased so that the more serious cases can still be dealt with appropriately.

The Accident Compensation Act [18] allows victims of certain crimes the ability to make claims for compensation for mental injury. Male assault female is one of those crimes. The Criminal Investigations Bodily Samples Act [19] allows investigators the ability to take bodily samples from people accused of certain crimes. The gender neutral equivalent, common assault, is not included in those acts. A woman can be charged with the lesser crime of infanticide if she kills her child and "the balance of her mind was disturbed". There is no equivalent for men.

In New Zealand, there is at least one case of a man being charged with murder where if he was a woman he would have been charged with infanticide. The Adoption Act [22] prevents males from adopting female children in certain cases. New Zealand has mechanism to prevent gender inequality in proposed legislation. Section 7 of the Bill of Right Act requires the Attorney General to report to Parliament if a bill appears to be inconsistent with the non-discrimination requirements of the act. However parliament is not bound by these reports. Papers presented to cabinet are required to undergo a gender analysis by the Ministry for Women to determine the potential impacts on women and girls.

In the past century the gender gap in New Zealand has been slowly closing in and there has been an increase in women's rights and feminism. The government is making steady progress and it is evident that the fundamentals for equal rights are all in place: democracy, the rule of law and an independent judiciary. The government has also implemented effective structures of governance, specialized human rights and other accountability mechanisms, and has recognised the vulnerability of particular groups and individuals. Although New Zealand consistently ranks in the top half dozen of countries in the world when it comes to equality between men and women, it is not complacent in terms of gender equality.

New Zealand women still do not experience the full equality guaranteed by the law. Across the economy women's skills are under-used in leadership and women continue to earn less than men — even if they have the same qualifications, and similar job descriptions. Family violence also continues to be a cause of considerable disquiet. However, many of the remaining gender gaps in New Zealand do not appear to be a conscious disregard to the law as there is comprehensive legislation in place , rather it is largely based on subconscious prejudice and factors like occupational segregation.

New Zealand has had a high level of participation by women in public life and this is evident from the modest female representation in politics and the judiciary. However, women continue to be under represented in parliament. At present there are no adopted quotas and targets to increase the number of women to ensure the equal representation of women in all publicly appointed bodies by the New Zealand Government. This was criticized by the Human Rights Commission as being insufficient as there is no dedicated machinery to guide it.

The government's current goals and priorities in terms of employment equality for New Zealand women are linked to its broader goal of improving New Zealand's prosperity in the economy. This is to allow women to have more choices and opportunities to use their strengths to maximize social and economical success. The New Zealand workforce shows a pattern of occupational segregation. For example, women tend to work in lower paying jobs, which contributes, in part, to the wage gap.

Dangerous jobs are tend to be mainly male occupations, leading to significantly more workplace injuries and deaths among men. With regard to pay equity, the domestic gender pay gap in New Zealand when comparing full-time workers is rather low in comparison to other countries. The gender pay gap in New Zealand was calculated to be 9. Women generally have higher rates of participation in all categories of unpaid work — within and outside of the household.


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The amount of part-time workers in New Zealand are three quarters women. Section 21 of the Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of sex including pregnancy and child birth , marital status and family status. Gender equality is a topic in the workforce that has received increasing discussion and momentum. New Zealand started as the first nation to have full voting rights for women in From there, women entered the workforce in the s, although the participation rate of men and women at the time was 81 percent and 67 percent respectively.

Along with this, large corporations are encouraged to meet with the Ministry for Women. Feminists in New Zealand have developed their goal of creating greater equality for women. Equal economic agenda is a pillar of the liberal feminist ideas stemming from the s. The goal of these programs is to increase representation for women and help them gain further recognition in the economic sector.

The development of different policies towards greater equality in the workforce is championed by the various women's organizations in New Zealand. The Women's Affairs is recognized on a national level in the country. The Ministry also created interactive relationships with different female organizations.

The workforce has benefited from the government interaction with women's organizations and helped to understand the change in the various female demographics in the economic sector. Generally, in education, women tend to outperform men and women tend to fare better in participation. Women outnumber men for 15 to year-olds who are not in employment, education or training NEET. In The Administration Act section 77 provides for equal inheritance rights for sons and daughters and there is no evidence of discrimination in practice, or under any informal customary systems.

New Zealand women have the right to non-discrimination in the ownership and access to land. The Maori Land Act provides for gender equality in the control and use of land and resources. Women also have the equal right to financial services pursuant to the Human Rights Women can access the same comprehensive range of health services as men, as well as having a range of services in place specifically designed for women's health needs — such as maternity services and population screening programmes.

On average, women have better health outcomes than men and women generally have a higher life expectancy. However, there are areas in which New Zealand does not fare so well in terms of health. The suicide rate per , population was Traditionally the ratio is about male to female.