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Focus on fairness for jobs summit

Human Rights Commission
Media release
23 February, 2009

Focus on fairness for jobs summit

The Human Rights Commission called for this week’s Employment Summit to ensure that any fiscal and job stimulus solutions are fair for all New Zealanders.

"The Government has said its overarching policy on employment is based on human rights, among other things, so it is important to focus on the rights of women as well as of men in job retention and job creation initiatives," said Dr Judy McGregor the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner today.

The Employment Summit in Auckland on Friday will bring stakeholders together to grapple with the effect of economic recession on employment.

Dr McGregor said that in today’s society men and women were equally at the coalface of employment and in many cases women were the major breadwinners.

“Women risk becoming increasingly vulnerable to job losses during New Zealand’s economic downturn, putting families at greater financial risk during these troubled times, “said Dr McGregor.

Women’s employment has in the past helped boost family incomes when times are tough but will no longer be able to insulate families from economic hardship if they lose jobs.

The latest unemployment figures show that female unemployment rates were increasing slightly faster than for men at 4.7 percent, an 0.6 percentage points increase in the December 2008 quarter, while the male unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 4.4 percent.

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A further 7000 women became unemployed over the December quarter creating a total of 50,000. Over the same period 3000 men lost their jobs, creating a total of 54,000 unemployed men, according to Statistics New Zealand’s Household Labour Force Survey.

“Many of these women will come from groups already doing it tough. Many Maori and Pacific women experience poorer economic outcomes than European women,” said Dr McGregor.

On average a Maori or Pacific woman earns only about 86 per cent of the average Pakeha/European woman’s pay packet. But in Maori and Pacific communities the women earn almost as much as their male partners, according to the New Zealand Census of Women’s Participation 2008.


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