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Women Make Strong Gains - PM

The Employment Contracts Act has allowed women to reap rewards after years of being stuck, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said today.

"The Labour-Alliance bloc's commitment to destroy the ECA will work directly against women and the progress being made.

"For the first time, women's ordinary time hourly pay relative to men has increased to 84% after being consistently stuck at 82% for years. Labour and Alliance would take women back."

In addition to wage gains, women are making progress across the board:

· Average base salary for women working in the public sector in relation to men rose to just over 84% this year, up from almost 80% in 1996.

· In the past two years the number of women employed has grown four times faster than the rate of men. And, wages for women have increased more than one and a half times faster than men.

· The number of women appointed to government boards and committees now stands at over 35%, up from 25% in 1993.

· The latest Korn/Ferry International Annual Board of Directors Study shows that in 1999, 13.5% of directors in New Zealand are women, up from 10.1% in 1997.

· Over 30,000 more women are now self employed than in 1990 ? a 73% increase.

"While other parties patronise women's issues with lip service, National has done something positive, and provided women with opportunities to make the most of.

"There is still a long way to go but I am heartened to see women making the most of opportunities made possible with National's leadership."

New Zealand women stand to lose the most from a change in direction, Mrs Shipley told a women's business breakfast in Johnsonville, Wellington this morning.

"Higher taxes, rigid employment conditions, higher interest rates and greater costs are all reasons not to start your own business.

"Women in New Zealand want the chance to keep doing well and be rewarded for their hard work. Only National is committed to making that happen," said Mrs Shipley.

ENDS

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