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Women, Work & Welfare - Women's Studies Journal

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Women, Work & Welfare Examined in latest Women's Studies Journal

Large numbers of New Zealand women struggle to survive on low incomes, and many do not have financial independence.

These are two of the conclusions to emerge in the latest issue of the Women's Studies Journal, which explores topics on women, work and welfare.

Although there have been some improvements in women's material circumstances, major problems of financial hardship remain. The majority of low-paid workers are women, particularly Mäori and Pacific Islanders. Feminist economist Prue Hyman suggests that one way to reduce the gender pay gap and poverty among women is to substantially increase the minimum wage. She believes that increasing its level and maintaining, or improving, its relativity with average earnings should be a key for any government concerned with gender equity and social justice.

Despite the Domestic Purposes Benefit, the state reinforces women's economic dependence on men. Tina McIvor shows how the welfare system fosters mothers' dependence upon a partner through low levels of income support and rules to shift women off benefits. She recommends that benefits be paid to individuals in their own right rather than subject to their marital status.

Older women who do return to the workforce can experience difficulties and discrimination. Doreen Davy and Jocelyn Handy explore the ways in which age and gender discrimination interact in New Zealand employment, looking at employment agencies where younger women apply discriminatory criteria relating to age, appearance and 'team fit'.

In other essays, equal employment opportunities are explored, including discriminatory practices in the appointment of primary school principals; the impacts that education reforms have had on the working conditions of kindergarten teachers; and the barriers and religio-cultural considerations affecting equal employment opportunities of Islamic university women in Malaysia.

New Zealand's only journal dedicated to women's studies, the Women's Studies Journal has emerged from a two-year hiatus with a new editorial collective based at Massey University. First published in 1984, the journal publishes writing by women that explores the concerns of women's studies and feminism. It is published by the New Zealand Women's Studies Association and University of Otago Press.


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