Last week I had the privilege of travelling to the United Nations in New York to advocate for women’s rights. I travelled to the 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) where around 8000 women from around the world gathered to discuss the challenges and opportunities to achieve gender equality. It was amazing to hear what other governments and NGO’s are doing around the word to work towards gender equality.
Empowering Rural Women
This year’s theme of CSW was “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”. I was honoured to facilitate a discussion about the “Empowerment of Rural Women through economic opportunity”. The event was opened by our Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter and included panelists Fiona Gower, President of Rural Women New Zealand, Jo Finer, General Manager NZ Global Stakeholder Affairs Fonterra, Renee Graham CEO, Ministry for Women, Kate Jenkins Commissioner for Sex Discrimination, Australian Human Rights Commission and Adela Nores Director “Sociedad Rural Argentina”. We had a wonderful discussion about the challenges and opportunities for rural women in New Zealand, Australia and Argentina, and heard some amazing examples of rural women who started successful businesses. I hope to keep working with and advocating for rural women in New Zealand, who really are the backbone of our country.
Suffrage 125 celebration
Another highlight for me was attending at the Suffrage 125 celebration hosted by the New Zealand Mission in New York, celebrating 125 years since women obtained the vote in New Zealand. Many NGO representatives from New Zealand attended, along with the Minister for Women. It was wonderful to see so many young women activists at this event who I know will also keep pushing for gender equality. We have a responsibility to keep working for equality for all women in Aotearoa, which has yet to be achieved 125 years after obtaining the right to vote.
My Work going forward
Although New Zealand has many issues to work on, after attending CSW62 I feel as a peaceful, developed nation we could be an exemplar for gender equality.
To achieve this, New Zealand needs to work with urgency to:
- Have a measurable, enforceable plan to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 5 (gender equality);
- Ensure that women have equality in decision-making and leadership roles;
- Eradicate gender-based violence and sexual harassment;
- Find ways to finance and support women’s business and entrepreneurship; gender pay gap and implementing a living wage;
- Find ways to mitigate climate change
I will be advocating for these issues as I go forward into 2018.