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Another salvo fired for women's rights

6 September 2006

Another salvo fired for women's rights

Women in the New Zealand Defence Force deserve and full recognition of their abilities and readiness to participate, but the law is out of step.

That's the battlecry of Labour MP Lynne Pillay, who has leapt out of the Parliamentary trenches with new legislation to validate women's participation in the armed forces.

The Human Rights (Women in Armed Forces) Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Human Rights Act to remove an exemption for sexual discrimination in employment matters that applies to the Armed Forces.*

Lynne Pillay says the Defence Force has for five years turned a blind eye to the ability to ban women from serving in combat roles because it makes little sense for them either in strategic or tactical terms. Not only that, women in the armed forces today – plus those who're thinking of joining up – see it as a mockery," said Lynn Pillay.

"The law I'm proposing reflects current NZDF practice, and helps New Zealand fully ratify its international obligations with the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

"My Bill builds on and validates the career options for women who have progressed significantly since the integration of women into the New Zealand Armed Forces almost thirty years ago. Since then, women have received pay rises and improvements to conditions, such as those around getting married, being pregnant, Equal Employment Opportunities, and Parental Leave.

"Also in that time, women’s participation in the NZDF has increased from 977 to 1668; on current trends, the percentage of women may reach as high as 20 per cent by 2016."

"Women have endured and enjoyed deployment to some of the harshest operational environments alongside their male colleagues, proving themselves capable of any challenge. Some have been recognised for specific achievements, but many have simply got on and done the job in a thoroughly professional manner, bringing credit upon themselves and the New Zealand Defence Force. The law should reflect that."

ENDS

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