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A Day To Celebrate The Historic Work Of Women

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) says International Women’s Day (Sunday 8 March) is a great time for people in Aotearoa New Zealand to remember the wonderful work our women do; especially in 2020, the World Health Organization’s Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

The union and professional organisation especially welcomes the day as one on which to celebrate the crucial role of nurses, midwives, health care workers and kai mahi hauora, especially as 92 percent of its 52,000 members are women.

- NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says Aotearoa New Zealand can be proud of the wahine who have paved the way in its history and who continue to fight for justice, equality and equity.

"We especially honour and take inspiration from our nursing ancestors like Akenehi Hei and Ellen Dougherty who set the foundations for how we practise now. It is because of them, and for the generations of nurses to come, that we continue to fight against the ongoing undervaluation of women’s labour.

"The road to equality and equity is not the same for all women, and we need to acknowledge the systemic racism and colonisation that make things a lot harder for our internationally qualified nurses and particularly for our Māori nurses.

"Our collective effort for gender equality and equity needs to recognise those power structures and be grounded in Te Tiriti o Waitangi."

NZNO Industrial Services Manager Cee Payne says the union and professional organisation has been working towards gender equity for its members.

"We are in the process of an historic pay equity settlement which, when completed, will provide all our DHB members undertaking nursing and midwifery work with pay rates that are free of gender discrimination. Once those pay rates are established for the DHB sector we will be seeking a shortened pay equity process for members in other sectors."

Ms Payne said NZNO has also been advocating for the Equal Pay Amendment Bill. This work has included Select Committee submissions to remove hurdles that make it very difficult for women to challenge their discriminatory pay rates.

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