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National Council of Women calls for 50/50 by 2020

National Council of Women calls for 50/50 by 2020


The new leader of the National Council of Women of New Zealand is calling for gender equality by 2020.

Rae Duff, previously 1st Vice President, was confirmed National President at the council’s conference in Auckland. She replaced retiring President Barbara Arnold. Rae Duff, in her opening speech, said that while progress had been made – women faced inequality in too many critical areas.

“The level of violence against women is unacceptable and a clear statement of our inequality. We are paid less than men for doing equivalent jobs and stereotypes mean that women are deterred from going into a broader range of more highly paid industries. ’For a whole host of reasons, women are not sufficiently represented in top management roles – despite the evidence showing companies perform better with diverse leadership.

“Equality is every woman’s human right and too many women in New Zealand are, for a range of complex reasons, unable to access this basic human right. There are many wonderful groups and individuals working to improve gender equality in a range of different ways. I know that some of those fighting for gender equality are running out of patience and believe progress has stalled. As a lead umbrella women’s NGO in New Zealand, we are turning up the heat on this issue. The status quo is unacceptable.”

Rae Duff said the council had been weakened in recent years by being wrongfully deregistered and the time and resource that had been channelled into fighting that decision and its implications. She said the council, which was established in a1896 and is a strong contributor internationally to various United Nations bodies, was now strengthening so it could better make a difference for women.

“To give effect to this stretch target of 50/50 by 2020, we are developing a gender equality strategy for New Zealand. We will write this in partnership with our membership, which includes branches the length and breadth of New Zealand and national members representing a range of sectors. The gender equality strategy will lay out the current situation, what New Zealand would look like if we achieved gender equality for men and women, and what we need to do to get there, and how to measure our progress.”

Also at this conference 11 remits were passed that various parts of NCWNZ will now seek to action. This includes a remit to request the Government to review abortion law and practice with a view to simplifying it and ensuring a woman’s right to choose. Rae Duff said the organisation passed this remit to allow pregnant women to have fully informed choice and support.

Another remit passed was a call for a voluntary industry code of conduct on body image to stop negative and exploitative portrayals of women and girls in all forms of media. Rae Duff said the abortion remit was a major decision for the National Council of Women of New Zealand.

“Our membership includes organisations that are both for and against abortion, and the vote was a majority one but was not unanimous. Currently legislation considers abortion a crime. Women who have been victimised by rape or incest do not have the right to a legal abortion,” Rae Duff said.

The council’s Auckland branch put forward the remit, which was seconded by Abortion Law Reform New Zealand (ALRANZ). Auckland Branch President Julie Fairey said legislation needed to change to focus on trusting women to make the best decision for their circumstance.

“National Council of Women conference delegates had a respectful and balanced debate prior to the decision. We have a leadership role in continuing to encourage productive conversations on this issue,” Julie said.

ENDS

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