Gender equality isn’t a new concept in New Zealand, being the first country in the world where women won the right to vote in 1893. In more recent times, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern welcomed her first baby in office, only the second Prime Minister globally to do so. And females are well represented in parliament, making up 48% of its members. New Zealand policies ensure the country continues to work toward a fairer and more equal society
New Zealand is tackling gender inequality in all parts of life, from home and school to the workplace. Here are three initiatives underway right now, which are taking steps toward the goal of gender equality in New Zealand.
Ending Period Poverty
Schools in New Zealand are offering free period products as part of efforts to stamp out period poverty. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern believes that “young people should not miss out on their education because of something that is a normal part of life for half the population”.
Providing access to free period products to all state and state-integrated schools and kura will make these products easily accessible, with the aim to improve school attendance, sports involvement, and tertiary participation. It will improve child and youth wellbeing, and help to reduce the financial strain on families and whānau. By reducing the stigmatisation of menstruation and making it part of life in schools, the policy will also be promoting positive gender norms.
The Equal Pay Amendment Bill
New Zealand is tackling unequal pay. In 2020 an amendment to the Equal Pay Act 1972 was passed, which made it easier for workers to raise pay equity claims with their employers.
In certain jobs where most of the work has been performed by women, wages have often been lower than jobs where the work has been done mainly by men. A lower wage due to historical or current pay discrimination isn’t fair.
New Zealand recognises that men and women should receive the same pay for doing different jobs that are not only of equal value with similar skills – but also comparable experience, responsibilities, working conditions and degrees of effort.
Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage and Stillbirth
One in five pregnancies in New Zealand end in miscarriage – which can be a harrowing time for families. New Zealand recognises this and under law changes passed by Parliament in March 2021, people in employment now have the right to take paid time off work in the event of a miscarriage or stillbirth. This bereavement leave gives both partners time to grieve.
Looking for a place where gender equality is becoming a way of life? We know a place.