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Impressive progress made for New Zealand women

Impressive progress made for New Zealand women

New Zealand had adopted a very sensitive approach to women’s human rights and had a good chance of becoming a good practice example to many countries of the world said Ayse Feride Acar, Chairperson United Nations Committee, Convention for Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Women’s Affairs Minister Ruth Dyson presented New Zealand’s 5th report to the CEDAW committee in New York this week. The report covers the period March 1998 to 1 September 2002.

With impressive legislation for the advancement of women and women filling New Zealand’s four most powerful positions, including that of the Prime Minister, expert members of the CEDAW Committee cautioned against complacency in a seemingly ideal situation. The Committee said it was important to make sure that the current thrust was sustained and that there was no slip-back in the future.

“Since the government’s last report to CEDAW in 1998, we have introduced a number of significant measures to improve women’s lives," Ruth Dyson. "These include the introduction of 12 weeks paid parental leave, following serious concerns from CEDAW about the National government’s lack of action on this issue throughout the 1990s.

Ruth Dyson said other key measures for women introduced since the last CEDAW report included: setting up a pay equity taskforce to look at ways to reduce the gender pay gap; establishing an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Commissioner in the Human Rights Commission; amending the Matrimonial Property Act to address economic disparities between partners when a marriage or relationship breaks down; implementing Te Rito: New Zealand Family Violence Prevention Strategy; requiring gender analysis of papers submitted to Cabinet; publishing a Time Use Survey providing robust information on the paid and unpaid work of women and men.

Ms Dyson said CEDAW provided a useful international yardstick against which to measure progress for New Zealand’s women.

“The Status of Women in New Zealand 2002 is a valuable record of the position of New Zealand women today. This report provides the CEDAW committee and the New Zealand people with an understanding of the issues affecting women in this country so that we can work together to improve the status of all women. “While the CEDAW report shows many positive gains, it also acts as a reminder that structural and systemic inequalities still exist for women in New Zealand. To address these inequalities, the government is developing a Women’s Action Plan which will be completed by the end of the year,” Ruth Dyson said.

Further information on CEDAW and the Women’s Action Plan is available at http:// http://www.mwa.govt.nz

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