Wellington, September 18, 2017
I encourage all New Zealanders to take some time tomorrow, on Suffrage Day, to reflect on women’s rights in New Zealand.
I am so proud to live in a country that was the first in the world to give women the vote.
I hope all New Zealanders take time to reflect on that tomorrow and just how far we have come.
Tribute to Kate Sheppard
Kate Sheppard and the other suffragists fought for years to give women this right and did this country proud.
This Government has continued to support women. In the public sector 45% of people on state sector boards are women, 46% of women in senior leadership roles in the public service, we’ve introduced pay equity principles and we’ve settled a $2 billion pay equity claim for 55,000 care and support workers.
Gender Pay Gap
We still have so much more to achieve though. We have a 9.4% Gender Pay Gap.
This recently reduced from 12% but in 2017, we just should not have one.
We are working with the private sector to encourage them to measure their Gender Pay Gap and to work to reduce it.
I am often asked why we have a Ministry for Women and not a Ministry for Men.
My answer is simple – when we no longer have a Gender Pay Gap and women are not predominantly the victims of domestic and sexual violence, I will happily shut it down.
Until then, we should continue to focus on improving the lives on women and girls in this country. Anniversaries like this are the perfect time to reflect on that.
Paula Bennett is Women’s Minister of New Zealand.