Achieving gender equality will advance New Zealand society by bringing an end to everyday sexism in New Zealand and to achieving a better way of life for all New Zealanders, says Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue.
Backing the National Council of Women on their white paper released today, ‘Enabling women’s potential - the social and economic imperative’ Dr Blue said:
“Gender inequality is everyone’s problem and we need to normalise gender equality so it becomes a reality for everyday New Zealanders,” said Dr Blue.
The report recommends12 actions that will involve the Council, government, employers, unions, community groups and all New Zealanders to achieve a pathway for gender equality.
“The gender pay gap is at a six-year high at 11.8%. The fastest way to reduce our entrenched gender pay gap is to improve the wages of those New Zealanders in the lowest paid jobs, the overwhelming majority of whom are women,” she said.
The Commission's Tracking Equality at Work found that women and young people are more likely to be paid less than any other New Zealand workers. Pacific women were at the bottom of the pay ladder.
“Equal participation of women in the labour market is essential to the future of our workforce. Pay equity where jobs are valued according to skill, effort and responsibility will benefit generations of women, their families, community and our economy.
“The time is now to map out the path to a zero gender pay gap. We have dined out too long on the achievements of the suffragettes. Just as we led the world in women winning the right to vote in 1893, we can also lead the world in pay equity.
“Now we must become world leaders in gender equality where there are no stereotypes or sexism, where there are equal employment opportunities, and very low incidents of domestic violence. Women are suffering in many areas of life and this is a human rights issue,” Dr Blue said.