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Budget 2002 – Highlights for women

May 23 2002

Budget 2002 includes a number of social sector initiatives that will directly benefit New Zealand women, Women’s Affairs Minister Laila Harré said today.

These initiatives are in four main areas – paid parental leave; support for the creation of equal employment opportunities; childcare, early childhood education and out of school care; and housing.

Budget 2002 introduces the first full year of funding for paid parental leave.

“By far the biggest item for women in this year’s budget is paid parental leave.

“This scheme recognises women’s increased participation in paid work, and the fact that society is no longer characterised by dad at work and mum at home with the kids.”

Laila Harré said the increase in government funding for the joint Government/private sector EEO Trust acknowledges the fact that a number of groups, including women, continue to face employment disadvantage.

The government is more than doubling its contribution to the EEO Trust, from $445,000 to $1.061 million per annum.

Budget 2002 also allocates $1.464 million over four years for the establishment and administrative support of the full-time EEO commissioner within the Human Rights Commission.

“Improving employment opportunities and outcomes for women and other disadvantaged groups is critical if we want to create a sustainable and vibrant economy and properly resourced families,” Laila Harré said.

“Overall women take home less pay than their similarly qualified male counterparts, are more likely to experience discrimination or harassment, are more likely to be under employed or experience joblessness.

“Women’s incomes remain substantially below those of men and they tend to predominate in occupations characterised by low pay.”

Laila Harré said Budget 2002 makes real progress towards improving the pay rates that early childhood workers (98 per cent of whom are women) might expect in the future.

In particular we are beginning to deliver on pay parity for kindergarten teachers and increased grant funding to licensed and chartered early childhood education services.

“Up until now the early childhood sector has in effect been penalised because the work it does is seen as being close to that of a mother, a job that society has been slow to recognise as having value in dollar terms.”

Laila Harré said funding for Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) in Budget 2002 has secured the future of a community success story that directly supports women in employment.

In 1998 the New Zealand Childcare Survey found that 67 per cent of mothers with a youngest child over five were in paid employment.

“Adequate, affordable OSCAR services were wanted, but unavailable for some 30,000 school age children, or six per cent of five to 13 year olds,” she said.

“Budget 2002 has really brought central government to the table on this one.”

Over the next four years $36.592 million will go into out of school care, with $29.84 million going directly into OSCAR services.

The government has also added an extra $4.333 million over the next four years to the childcare subsidy. This is in anticipation of an increase in the use of OSCAR by those on low incomes who can access the childcare subsidy.

As low-income earners, Maori and other women will benefit from the new housing initiatives within Budget 2002.

“With Maori women in 25 per cent of households holding HNZC tenancies, the further 360 new state houses should see roofs over the heads of 90 more Maori women and their families,” Laila Harré said.

A new injection of $30 million for the Healthy Housing programme, which aims to reduce overcrowding levels, will also benefit Maori women. At a figure of around 38,000 they are the single largest group living in densely crowed households in New Zealand.

Ends

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