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Government to develop action plan for women

Government to develop action plan for women

The government will develop a plan of action to address the challenges facing New Zealand women, Women’s Affairs Minister Ruth Dyson said today.

Launching the discussion document, Towards an Action Plan for New Zealand Women, at a function at Parliament attended by more than 300 people, Ms Dyson said the plan would identify a clear vision, set of goals and framework for action to improve women’s lives.

“We live in a time of enormous social change. Increasing ethnic diversity, growing numbers of young women from Maori and Pacific populations, smaller families, diverse family structures, an ageing population, and the changing roles and expectations of both women and men are just some of the things we need to take into account.”

Ruth Dyson said the discussion document had three key themes for women: economic sustainability; balancing work, family and community responsibilities; and general well-being.

“We need to recognise the special place and role of Maori women, as tangata whenua and as the heart and soul of their whanau, hapu and iwi.

“We need to address the persistent inequalities that continue to face many groups of women, such as Pacific, rural, migrant and refugee women, women with disabilities, and low-income women.

“We also need to tackle women’s family and whanau responsibilities. We have worked hard in this country for women’s participation, particularly in the paid labour market. What we haven’t done yet is get the right balance between paid and unpaid work.”

Ruth Dyson said the Ministry of Women’s Affairs was working with the National Council of Women and Maori Women’s Welfare League to develop and run consultation meetings on the action plan around the country in February and March 2003.

At the same function, Ruth Dyson also launched The Status of Women in New Zealand 2002, the government’s 5th report to the United Nations committee on the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

“The report measures this country’s progress against the United Nations yardstick of women’s universal human rights. It highlights our achievements and reminds us of the work still left to do”.

Ms Dyson will present the report to the CEDAW committee in New York in July 2003. She said the government’s achievements for women since the last report in 1998 included: introducing paid parental leave, following serious concern from CEDAW about the government’s lack of action throughout the 1990s; putting pay equity back on the agenda and consulting widely on the best way to reduce the gender pay gap; amending human rights legislation to provide a non-discrimination standard for the government; publishing the Time Use Survey, providing robust information on the paid and unpaid work of women and men; amending the Matrimonial Property Act to treat de facto and same sex couples similarly regarding the division of relationship property; implementing Te Rito: New Zealand Family Violence Prevention Strategy; and requiring papers submitted to Cabinet to include gender analysis and a gender implications statement.

Copies of The Status of Women in New Zealand 2002 and Towards an Action Plan for New Zealand Women (full version and summary), are available from: the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, PO Box 10 049 Wellington, The documents will be available on the website: from 6.00pm, Wednesday, 4 December.

NB: Maori Women’s Welfare League president Kitty Bennett and National Council of Women president Beryl Anderson will also speak at tonight’s launch. The MWWL report to CEDAW on the status of Maori women, and the non-government organisations’ non-Maori report to CEDAW, will be available at the launch.

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