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Work/life balance key to women’s health

Work/life balance key to women’s health

Women have made great advances in workplace participation, but have not yet achieved a healthy balance between their work and their lives with their families and in their communities, Women’s Affairs Minister Ruth Dyson said today.

“Women make up 47 per cent of the workforce and 43 per cent of the self-employed. Yet society still expects us to have children, care for whanau and families, and do much of the unpaid work in our communities.”

Speaking on the eve of the 109th anniversary of women’s suffrage, Ms Dyson said that a decade of a deregulated and competitive environment had reduced the quality of life for many workers of both sexes.

“A lot of men also have more stress in their lives than is healthy. However, women have paid the greatest price because of the additional level of stress that accompanies our role as carers.”

Ruth Dyson said initiatives introduced by the government – including paid parental leave - would help address the work/life balance issue.

“More than 6000 people have applied for paid parental leave since the scheme was introduced in July 2002. That’s 6000 parents who can now afford to take the time to adjust to the birth of a new child without having to rush back to work, with all the associated social and health benefits for both mother and baby.”

Ms Dyson said the government had also assisted women by: improving access to childcare and out of school care; developing a 10-year plan to increase the participation of Maori, Pacific, low income and rural children in early childhood education; removing the work test for sole parents receiving benefits, giving them more flexibility around parenting; addressing economic disparities between partners that arise when a marriage or relationship breaks down; encouraging more women into industry training, so that women now make up 23 per cent of all trainees, compared with 13 per cent in 1996; launching Te Rito: New Zealand Family Violence Prevention Strategy; and developing strategies in disability issues, health, and positive ageing that will have a positive impact on women.

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