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Balance for better this Women’s Day means inclusion

National Council of Women of New Zealand President and Gender Equal NZ spokesperson, Vanisa Dhiru, says that if we are aiming to ‘balance for better’ this International Women’s Day we need to include all genders.

“This means as well as women who were assigned female at birth, we also need to include all genders – of all ethnicities – to create true gender balance” says Vanisa.

“The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is ‘balance for better’ – and this means we need a better gender balance in income equality, in leadership, in safety and health, in education and all areas of life. This would look like a gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth and gender-balanced sports coverage.”

We don’t currently have gender balance. For example, our brand new Gender Dashboard shows that women and men work the same number of hours each day – but women only get paid for 35% of their work, while men get paid for 63% of theirs. Pacifica women earn just 72 cents for every dollar that Pākehā men earn.

“It’s not just in income that we see that gender inequality” says Vanisa. “The World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Gender Gap Report shows that true gender equality could be over 170 years away. This is absolutely unacceptable and it’s worse for some groups of women than others, because of racism, transphobia and other forms of discrimination”.

“Results from our recent award winning Gender Attitudes Survey show that most New Zealanders (79%) agree that gender equality is a fundamental right for all of us. But the results also show a pocket of New Zealanders that hold old-fashioned views about gender stereotypes and roles.”

• 19% of New Zealanders think it is seen as more important for men to be in a position of power

• 20% of New Zealanders think it is seen as more important for women to be physically attractive

“These ideas about what makes a “real man” or a “real woman” are limiting for all of us” says Vanisa. “They don’t allow most people to express all of who we are. The reality is that most people have both characteristics that are seen as more masculine and characteristics that are seen as more feminine, and that’s just fine.”

“If we could break down these rigid expectations around gender, we’d create more room for everyone. Getting rid of the norms that cause gendered violence, pay inequality, the devaluing of caregiving work and parenting and inequalities in leadership roles – just to name a few outcomes – would change our world for the better, and help to achieve a gender balance in critical areas.”


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