COVID-19 recovery must not leave women behind says EEO Commissioner

COVID-19 recovery must not leave women behind says EEO Commissioner

August 7, 2020

The Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner is concerned that out of the 11,000 New Zealanders who lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19, a staggering 10,000 of these were women.

According to figures released by Stats NZ, the pandemic has hit female-dominated industries like childcare, retail and hospitality the hardest.

“It is alarming that women make up around 90% of those that have lost their jobs in the June quarter,” said Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo.

“The response by government, the education sector, businesses, and unions must be purposeful and targeted.”

“We cannot simply rely on job growth without also addressing gender inequities that exist in the job market. We cannot leave our women, disabled, young, and older workers behind,” she said.

While public investment in apprenticeships and trades is visible, including shovel-ready projects, the government needs to ensure that some of these jobs are going to women.

“Let’s invest similarly in say our volunteer sector where women do the bulk of unpaid voluntary work in service of our communities.”

“It's public money and women are part of the public. They need to gain from this investment as well. Behind every number, every job is perhaps a household or children who rely on that income. So, we have to invest for the long-term,” said Sumeo.

The Commissioner also called on businesses to uphold the principles of good faith as tough decisions about redundancies were being made.

“Businesses need to scrutinise their own behaviour when making workers redundant. These are tough decisions, and no one is taking them lightly. Employers must be fair, transparent, and act within the law.”