National Council of Women calls for 50/50 by 2020
The new leader of the National Council of Women of New Zealand is calling for gender equality by 2020.
Rae Duff, previously 1st Vice President, was confirmed National President at the council’s conference in Auckland. She replaced retiring President Barbara Arnold.
Rae Duff, in her opening speech, said that while progress had been made – women faced inequality in too many critical areas.
“The level of violence against women is unacceptable and a clear statement of our inequality. We are paid less than men for doing equivalent jobs and stereotypes mean that women are deterred from going into a broader range of more highly paid industries.
“’For a whole host of reasons, women are not sufficiently represented in top management roles – despite the evidence showing companies perform better with diverse leadership.
“Equality is every woman’s human right and too many women in New Zealand are, for a range of complex reasons, unable to access this basic human right.
“There are many wonderful groups and individuals working to improve gender equality in a range of different ways. I know that some of those fighting for gender equality are running out of patience and believe progress has stalled. As a lead umbrella women’s NGO in New Zealand, we are turning up the heat on this issue. The status quo is unacceptable.”
Rae Duff said the council had been weakened in recent years by being wrongfully deregistered and the time and resource that had been channelled into fighting that decision and its implications. She said the council, which was established in 1896 and is a strong contributor internationally to various United Nations bodies, was now strengthening so it could better make a difference for women.
“To give effect to this stretch target of 50/50 by 2020, we are developing a gender equality strategy for New Zealand. We will write this in partnership with our membership, which includes branches the length and breadth of New Zealand and national members representing a range of sectors.
“The gender equality strategy will lay out the current situation, what New Zealand would look like if we achieved gender equality for men and women, and what we need to do to get there, and how to measure our progress.”
Also at this conference 11 remits were passed that various parts of NCWNZ will now seek to action.
This includes a remit to request the Government to review abortion law and practice with a view to simplifying it and ensuring a woman’s right to choose. Rae Duff said the organisation passed this remit to allow pregnant women to have fully informed choice and support.
Another remit passed was a call for a voluntary industry code of conduct on body image to stop negative and exploitative portrayals of women and girls in all forms of media.
Rae Duff said the abortion remit was a major decision for the National Council of Women of New Zealand.
“Our membership includes organisations that are both for and against abortion, and the vote was a majority one but was not unanimous. Currently legislation considers abortion a crime. Women who have been victimised by rape or incest do not have the right to a legal abortion,” Rae Duff said.
The council’s Auckland branch put forward the remit, which was seconded by Abortion Law Reform New Zealand (ALRANZ). Auckland Branch President Julie Fairey said legislation needed to change to focus on trusting women to make the best decision for their circumstance.
“National Council of Women conference delegates had a respectful and balanced debate prior to the decision. We have a leadership role in continuing to encourage productive conversations on this issue.”
More information – new NCWNZ Board
The National Council of Women of New Zealand has a new Board following decisions at its conference in Auckland this weekend.
The new Board is:
- National President: Rae Duff (previously 1st Vice President)
- 1st Vice President Vanisa Dhiru (previous Board member)
- 2nd Vice President Dianne Glenn (new to the Board)
- Members: Helen Gibson (previous Board member) and Cleone Campbell (new to the Board).
Outgoing Board members included previous National President Barbara Arnold, 2nd Vice President Shirley Payes and Mary Gavin.
The organisation also passed a new constitution at the conference that modernises the council’s rules. The National Council of Women of New Zealand is a membership organisation, established in 1896 by the suffragists, to make a difference to women and progress gender equality.
Brief bios of the current Board:
Rae Duff first joined the National Council of Women in 2008. She is currently chair of the Project Control Group for St Catherine’s College Board of Proprietors. She has been National President of the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women. She is currently on the federation’s Wellington Branch Charitable Trust and convenes and is the treasurer of the Academic Dress service. Rae has extensive education sector experience including lecturing at Wellington College of Education’s School of Primary and Secondary Teacher Education. 12 years as Deputy Principal of St Catherine’s College.
Vanisa Dhiru is currently the Chief Executive of Volunteering NZ and NZ National Representative to the International Association of Volunteer Effort (IAVE). She has been involved with NCW since 2009 when she was the YWCA Greater Wellington President. Vanisa is on the Leadership Advisory Panel for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Graduate Women Wellington Committee, and the NGO Advisory Group for the Minister of Social Development. She is the chair of the Inspiring Stories Trust.
Dianne Glenn, a Justice of the Peace, is currently the President of the NCW Papakura/Franklin Branch. Dianne is a Counties Manukau District Health Board member. Dianne has a long association with the NZ Federation of Business and Professional Women which includes being President at the national level, being a founding and life member of Franklin BPW, and holding international roles, including as Asia Pacific Regional Co-ordinator. Dianne’s employment includes as District Licensing Commissioner and previously an Auckland Regional Councillor.
Helen Gibson has been a member of NCW for five years. Helen’s governance experience includes the Father John Curnow Trust and Network Waitangi Ōtautahi –Treaty of Waitangi education. She has a PhD in education from the University of Canterbury. She works for Pukeko Research as a writer and researcher. Helen is involved with the NCW Christchurch branch’s Women’s Voices project.
Cleone Campbell has been involved with NCWNZ in a governance or committee role since 2010. She is also the Treasurer of Pacific Women’s Watch, and the Zonta Cub of Auckland. She has been a member of the Child Poverty Action Group and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Cleone works as a legal executive.