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A woman's place ... isn't with National

A woman's place ... isn't with National

Don Brash's intention to abolish the Ministry of Women's Affairs is a clear signal that as far as the National Party is concerned, women's issues are off the front bench, off the back bench and off the political agenda, Green MP Sue Kedgley said today.

Dr Brash has strengthened the National Party's resolve to marginalise women's issues, following its 2002 election policy to "review" the Ministry of Women's Affairs and merge it with the Ministry of Social Development.

"With no women's spokesperson, only two women in their top 15, and plans to abolish the Women's Ministry, Dr Brash has made it clear that the National Party is blind to the plight of the average New Zealand woman," said Ms Kedgley, the Green spokesperson for Women's Affairs.

"There are huge issues for women that demand urgent political action, such as pay equity, paid parental leave, flexible working hours, benefits for single mothers, child and family poverty, issues of violence and abuse against women and children. "Perhaps Dr Brash is unaware that the average woman still earns only 80 per cent of a man's salary, and that we pay mechanics more for looking after our cars than women for looking after our children.

Nurses' salaries start at $30,000, compared with police who start at $40,000 and can earn over $60,000 on the basic salary scale. This is a clear case of discrimination that needs to be urgently rectified with a pay equity settlement for nurses, Ms Kedgley said.

"The Ministry of Women's Affairs has made an impact in addressing the social inequality that New Zealand women have suffered for decades. Without the input of a Women's ministry, other Government departments will become de facto Ministries of Men's Affairs," warned Ms Kedgley.

"As long as 50 per cent of the population are unfairly discriminated against in these ways, there will continue to be a need for a Minister to address these issues."

Sue Bradford, Green Party Children's spokesperson, said it was odd that National has no spokesperson on either women's or children's issues.

"Given that a third of our country's children are still living in poverty, and that we have one of the highest rates of child abuse in the world, this ought to be one of Parliament's top priorities," Ms Bradford said.


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