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Women's Day: Challenges to bridging the gap

Human Rights Commission
Media Release
7 March 2006

International Women’s Day: Challenges to bridging the equality gap

New Zealand continues to be a leading nation in advancing gender equality, and has made significant strides in recent decades to bridge historical gaps in the legal, social, economic and political arenas.

However, some significant challenges to gender equality remain in New Zealand, outlined by three Human Rights Commissioners.

Women, children continue to face domestic violence

Women and children continue to suffer the overwhelming majority of domestic violence abuse, said Commissioner Joy Liddicoat.

The National Collective of Women’s Refuges has noted that seven women have died as a result of domestic violence in New Zealand since the start of 2006.

Last year the Police fielded over 45,000 emergency 111 calls on domestic violence, with the vast majority from women needing immediate help.

“These figures are a stark reminder that some women continue to be denied their basic right to be safe from violence,” Ms Liddicoat said.

“New Zealand has signed up to international agreements about eliminating discrimination and violence against women and girls – it’s important that as a community we deliver on that promise.

“March must be a month in which no one is killed as a result of domestic violence.”

Lagging behind in leadership roles

The progress of women in to top leadership roles in the New Zealand workplace continues at a glacial pace, said EEO Commissioner Dr Judy McGregor.

“The place of women in the media is a good example. Despite more women than men graduating from our journalism training schools, women make up only 19% of editorships of major newspapers.

“Of the 26 newspaper editorships of metropolitan, provincial and Sunday newspapers, only five are women. No women are editors of the five metropolitan newspapers, one is an editor of one of the three Sunday newspapers and four women edited provincial dailies.”

The findings are part of research undertaken by the Human Rights Commission looking at women’s participation in leadership and governance roles across a variety of employment sectors. The full report will be released in April 2006.

“At the current rate it might be another hundred years before there is gender balance at the top in daily newspaper journalism in New Zealand,” said Dr McGregor.

“This is significant given the influence that the modern news media has in shaping how the public sees the world.”

Women with disabilities ‘forgotten, impoverished, invisible’

Women with disabilities continue to be invisible and their needs often go unmet because so little data was collected about them, said Commissioner Robyn Hunt.

“We know that women with disabilities are among the poorest New Zealanders – 70% have an annual income of less than $15,000.

“But we know precious little else, such as where they live, their level of family and community support, the services they need and how they can best access them, and the help they might need to care for their children.”

Ms Hunt said that greater attention should be given to collecting data about women with disabilities through the Census and other avenues.

“Without this information, government and other service providers can’t develop effective policies to meet their needs. The end result is that they will continue to remain impoverished, isolated and forgotten.”


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