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Celebrating International Women’s Day

7 March 2005

Celebrating International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day will be celebrated at a special function, hosted by Women’s Affairs Minister Ruth Dyson in Wellington tomorrow (8 March).

Ruth Dyson will host the breakfast gathering, which has been organised by UNIFEM New Zealand and Zonta International; both groups promote the advancement of women’s issues.

Fresh from heading New Zealand’s delegation to the 49th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York, Ruth Dyson said New Zealand maintains a proud record in women’s rights. International Women’s Day also marks the first anniversary of the Action Plan for New Zealand Women.

“The Action Plan is a five-year whole-of-government programme identifying three key themes to bring about real improvements to women’s lives: economic sustainability – (having enough income for women and families to care for themselves) work-life balance; and preserving and improving health and well-being.
“Already we have taken some important steps including, paid parental leave (which increases to 14 weeks this year), increased child care subsidies, boosting income support for New Zealand families through the Working for Families Package and steps towards addressing pay and employment inequity in the public sector.

“In addition, we are looking at options for boosting home-based childcare, and monitoring progress on proposals in the United Kingdom for a year’s paid parental leave and out-of-school child care support.

“Our government wants to support New Zealand women, and their families to make genuine choices about work. We want to support parents’ choices, in their bid to find balance between paid work and raising a family. New Zealanders have a reputation for innovation and creativity. International Women’s Day is the ideal time to celebrate that,” said Ruth Dyson.

Note: Background information attached

Background information: International Women’s Day International Women’s Day is observed world-wide on 8 March. In 1910, Clara Zetkin, of Germany, had first proposed that a day be set aside each year for the purpose of demonstrations for women’s suffrage. The first public celebration of the day was held in Germany, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland and the United States in 1911.

More than a million women participated. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office they demanded the right to work, to vocational training and for an end to discrimination at work. Americans recognised the international status of the day in 1916, but celebrated it only sporadically. In Britain International Women’s Day did not become an annual event until after World War II.

However the birth of the women’s liberation movement in the late 1960s revived interest and in the 1970s International Women’s Day was celebrated more widely than ever before, including in New Zealand. In 1978 it was included in a list of holidays officially recognised by the United Nations. In New Zealand International Women’s Day has become a focus for local and regional activities and events of interest to women.


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