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Women's action plan rich rhetoric thin detail

Women's action plan rich in rhetoric, thin on detail

"It's a bit rich for the Labour Government - in its fifth year - to only now be launching a a new strategy for 52% of the population," says National Party Social Services spokeswoman Katherine Rich.

"Helen Reddy sang 'I am woman, hear me roar', she'd never contemplate singing, 'I am woman, have a look at my women's strategy document' and expect to get the same powerful reaction.

"The PC plan is rife with rhetoric, and thin on detail. National says it is the best evidence yet that it is time to reconsider the role of the Ministry of Women's Affairs.

"In 1984, the Ministry was established with huge expectations that it hasn't met. David Lange said at the time '[The Ministry] must work the system. It must change the system. In the end it must challenge the system.'

"Annette King said it would be a place where 'women will be able to take their problems and have them dealt with'. Another Labour MP said it would act as a 'catalyst' in social equality, 'a voice to speak out against unnoticed discrimination against women'.

"If the Ministry is a catalyst, I can only conclude that its batteries are flat. Women didn't get the strong advocate they were promised. What we got was a silent, compliant, invisible bureaucracy whose advice is routinely ignored.

"If you surveyed women in the street and asked what the Ministry had said or done lately I doubt they'd be able to give you one example. Women deserve better representation.

"So-called 'women's issues' should not be ghettoized in an isolated, under-funded ministry which has a budget equal to just over $2 per annum for each New Zealand woman.

"The research component would be better handled by the Ministry of Social Development, which already has the policy expertise and carries out a huge range of research and policy advice.

"The all-important advocacy role, currently non-existent for individual women through the Ministry of Women's Affairs, would be better handled by the Human Rights Commission," says Mrs Rich.

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