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Damning report card for women’s advancement in 2015

In 2015 New Zealand women face a widening gender pay gap, ongoing harassment at work and are increasingly being blocked from senior positions, Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said today.

Delivering the opening speech of the YWCA Dunedin UN International Women’s Day event, Clare Curran said the gender pay gap in the public sector stood at 19%, the highest it has been since 2007.

‘The private sector performs slightly better at 15.6% but there is still a trend towards lengthening rather than narrowing the gap.

‘The World Economic Forum’s 2014 annual report on the gender pay gap shows New Zealand has dropped in global rankings from seventh in 2013 to 13th in 2014, behind Nicaragua, Rwanda and the Philippines,’ she said.

‘What is more, our next generation of New Zealanders are being adversely affected; with research showing that women take twice as long as men on average to repay their student loans, and pay nearly twenty percent more for a bachelor’s degree due to increased interest charges.

‘The number of women in business management has dropped dramatically in the last two years reaching a 10 year low. Only 19 per cent of New Zealand businesses surveyed have women in senior management position, compared with the long running average of 28%.

‘Women are still being subjected to blatantly sexist conduct, as shown by the exposure of Roger Sutton and Alasdair Thompson. And just days ago, the government voted down Labour’s Bill to extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks. Female representation in Parliament is stuck on 30%. It’s a damning report for a country that has prided itself for generations on its emancipation and egalitarian nature.

‘Now more than ever women’s political efficacy matters. Women must inspire and be inspired. I use Dunedin suffragette Harriet Morison, and community stalwart Dame Dorothy Fraser as notable examples of Dunedin trailblazers, and sources of inspiration,’ says Clare Curran.

‘The YWCA Dunedin Angel Fund provides a vital service in helping women into economic independence.

‘International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate the remarkable achievements of female trailblazers around the world. It is also a time for introspection, to reflect on where we are as a nation, and evaluate what gains we have made towards gender equality.

‘Until women’s work is wholly valued and decisive action taken by this Government at eradicating the gender pay gap, the fight for gender equality will still get put in the ‘too hard’ basket”, Clare Curran says.

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