Rebuilding Together – will this reduce gender inequality?

“The impact of COVID-19 on women and existing gender inequalities has been almost entirely lacking in the public discourse. Budget 2020 has made a huge investment in rebuilding – what is not clear is whether the specific needs of women are recognised and whether there is a clear commitment to measuring implementation to ensure that the investments announced start to address gender inequality” said Lisa Lawrence, President of the National Council of Women of New Zealand.

“In the lead up to the Budget the Minister of Finance indicated that we needed to respond, recover and rebuild so that New Zealand absolutely can 'Be the country we have always said we want to be'. Today he talked of the need to hit the reset button. We want this too.” 

“There has long been a view that as a country, we have done well in terms of gender equality and we would all acknowledge the many firsts and achievements of New Zealand. Despite this, we remain a country with many inequalities and challenges like poverty, environmental degradation and climate change. COVID-19 has reinforced and exposed intergenerational and systemic inequalities in every sphere of life; especially for Māori, Pacific and migrant women, women with disabilities, older women and LGBTQIA+ people.”

“The COVID-19 crisis has also revealed the wealth of collective commitment, caring and sense of interconnectedness. Essential workers in low paid and undervalued female dominated sectors have been vital to our lives under lockdown. The pandemic has starkly revealed our economy and daily life depends on caring – both paid and unpaid – for children, elderly, sick and those with disabilities. We need now to embed changes that value this work and enable more flexibility in working hours, more generous parental and carers leave and adequate income for all.” 

“We welcome budget and pre-budget announcements that increase funding for

  • Early childhood education including pay increases for teachers and support for kōhanga reo
  • Sexual and domestic violence support
  • Investment in projects to restore our environment
  • Extending school lunches to 1 in 4 children
  • Public health system
  • 8000 public and transitional houses
  • Targeted funding for Māori and Pacifica employment initiatives”

“A focus on work and incomes is critical and we acknowledge the significant investment announced. We want to see that this is not only for ‘shovel ready’ physical infrastructure projects but also for vital social infrastructure work in areas like mental health, extending home and community support and education and training opportunities. We need to know that there is a commitment to ensuring women will have jobs in the physical infrastructure projects and access to the free trade training announced. We also seek recognition that investing in social infrastructure has the ability to address inequality and provide economic stimulus and provide employment in female-dominated areas. Unemployment and underutilisation pre COVID-19 were structurally higher for women than men. Māori and Pacific women are particularly impacted.”  

We are disappointed that there was not more in terms of welfare support and reform to ensure an adequate income for all New Zealanders.

“We will be analysing the Budget announcements closely with a gender lens. We expect the Government will be doing so in implementing the announcements made today and allocating the $20 billion response and recovery fund not yet allocated. Along with other women’s organisations, we will be maintaining scrutiny and we believe have a key role to play in partnership with Government in creating the new post COVID-19 gender equal Aotearoa New Zealand.”


ENDS      NCWNZ President Lisa Lawrence: ph 0220431374   [email protected]

More information about National Council of Women New Zealand

NCWNZ was founded in 1896 by Kate Sheppard and prominent leaders of NZ’s suffrage movement.

NCWNZ’s total membership is 450,000, drawn from 200 organisations who are members alongside 14 branches around the country.

Gender Equal NZ is led by the National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ). People can join the Gender Equal NZ movement at

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