On March 8th we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) and in 2023 we mark the 130th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, but women in Aotearoa New Zealand and around the world still don’t have access to equality. What is holding us back?
The National Council of Women of New Zealand Te Kaunihera Wahine o Aotearoa’s theme for IWD 2023 is #AccessEquality. Women continue to have unequal access to basic human rights like equal pay, online safety, health outcomes, and financial security – Pacific, Māori and disabled women even less so. These inequalities are experienced by women at every stage of their lives despite the fact that we now know how to address most of them. What will it take for women to see progress on these issues faster? For women to access true equality, we need everyone to act as allies and take action against the barriers that women face.
“The lack of access that New Zealand women have to equality, particularly those facing intersectional issues, is disappointing and worrying,” NCWNZ President Dr Suzanne Manning says. “We as a country have to bring awareness to these issues in order to make progress faster, because we haven't come far enough. The impact of the recent weather events, our housing crisis, and the pandemic continue to disproportionately impact women and girls.”
Dr Manning notes that the growing threat to gender equality globally could mean Aotearoa New Zealand women could also see backward progress here at home. “We have seen Roe v Wade overturned in America, the poison attacks on high school girls in Iran, the devastating effects of the earthquake that hit Türkiye and Syria, rising levels of misogyny and more. New Zealanders will have to work even harder to make further progress in the face of these challenges. It’s more important than ever that our allies stand with us.”
This year NCWNZ will be conducting another Gender Attitudes Survey and we are hoping to see trends improve from the last survey’s negative progress in some areas. Our 2021 Gender Attitudes Survey found that over one-half of all respondents either felt that no groups of people were disadvantaged by gender inequality (23%) or they didn’t know (33%). This finding illuminates the lack of education, awareness and progress. NCWNZ is working hard to change and improve New Zealanders’ attitudes toward gender equality, but this fight is not for women alone; fathers, brothers, uncles and friends must join us in helping the women in their lives #AccessEquality this International Women’s Day and beyond.
For more information, or to interview Dr Suzanne Manning please contact 022 655 6512 or email us.