The US Supreme Court Abortion Decision: A Step Back for Women’s Rights

Activist banner, "Fight for Roe v Wade likes [sic] it's 1973!"

The National Council of Women New Zealand, Te Kaunihera Wāhine o Aotearoa (NCWNZ) joins with Abortion Law Reform New Zealand (ALRANZ) in condemning the United States Supreme Court judgment that overturns Roe v Wade.

“This is a massive set-back for women’s reproductive rights and we feel for American women and the grief and anguish they must be experiencing," NCWNZ President Dr Suzanne Manning said. "Banning abortions won’t make abortions disappear. It will only drive abortion underground, increase risk and escalate major health issues for women. Poor women, women of colour, disabled women and LGBTIQ people will be the worst affected."


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Remembering Dame Miriam Dell

It is with great sadness that we honour and acknowledge the passing of our Dame Miriam Dell ONZ DBE JP. Dame Miriam was at the forefront of women’s issues in New Zealand and internationally for more than three decades. She was a fierce champion for women's advancement and gender equality, and has been a life member of NCWNZ since 1982.

Among her many roles and accolades, Dame Miriam will also be remembered as a Founding Member and Past President of the Hutt Valley Branch of the NCW and a Member of the national body. Her natural flair for leadership saw her elected National President of the National Council of Women from 1970 to 1974, where she led many initiatives such as being the NZ coordinator of the UN International Women's Year in 1975, and Chair of the Suffrage Centennial Year Trust in 1993. She was also elected as President of the International Council of Women, the first New Zealander to achieve this distinction.

Dame Miriam Dell was the New Zealand Government Delegate to all three UN Conferences for the Decade for Women in the 1970s. She was also the first Chairperson of the Committee on Women – what is now Manatū Wāhine, Ministry for Women, New Zealand.

We are deeply saddened by this news, but we know that Dame Miriam's legacy lives on. Thank you Dame Miriam for your service and contributions to women in Aotearoa. 

Make a Splash conference

Making a Splash

National Council of Women of NZ - Te Kaunihera Wāhine o Aotearoa Conference
19 Feb 2021

All members are invited to attend the one day, online conference being hosted by the Southland Branch. The programme for the day can be found here.

Registration is as simple as emailing [email protected] with:

  • Your name and "NIM" (individual members)
  • Your branch, the names of your attendees, and indicate the voting delegates (branches)
  • Your organisation name, the names of your attendees, and indicate your voting delegate (organisational members)

For more information, see the members communications that will be sent out during the next week. 

Equal Earrings

Here at Te Kaunihera Wāhine o Aotearoa/The National Council of Women NZ, we are often inspired by the fabulous young women who do things to support our Gender Equal campaign.

These students from Mount Aspiring College in Wanaka took part in a Young Enterprise Scheme, selling homemade clay earrings, and then donated 10% of their profits to Gender Equal. We are appreciative and impressed. You can read more about them here. 


In the North Island, Taradale High School students Marjolaine and Hannah organised a local charity wash as part of a social studies 'social action' unit, and donated their profits to Gender Equal. This sort of flaxroots support for our mahi leaves us grateful that there are so many people who care. 

Thank you to these students, and to all our other supporters and donors. We couldn't do it without you. 

Mind the Gap - Equal pay campaign

Fifty years after the Equal Pay Act of 1972, and 125 years after the first meeting of the National Council of Women NZ/ Te Kaunihera Wahine o Aotearoa called for Equal Pay for all genders, there is still a pay gap where women are paid on average 9% less than men (based on the median hourly rate). The gap between a Pasifika woman and a Pākehā man is more than 27%.

To push for more momentum on this critical equality issue, 35 organisations (including women's organisations like NCWNZ, unions and BusinessNZ) have joined forces in a new campaign: Mind the Gap. NCWNZ Board member, Carol Beaumont, was interviewed by RNZ The Detail on this important kaupapa. You can read about it and listen to the interview here.

Afghanistan women

Te Kaunihera Wahine o Aotearoa/The National Council of Women of NZ and UN Women Aotearoa wrote a joint letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister Nanaia Mahuta, adding our voices to those of other women's groups calling for continued and extended action to support women and girls in Afghanistan. Our letter can be read here.

We have received a reply from the Minister, in which we were pleased to hear that our government is continuing to take action in this humanitarian crisis. These actions have included "issu[ing] visas to a number of vulnerable Afghan nationals, including human rights defenders, women judges and those from ethnic minority communities at risk", providing targeted assistance to the UN Population Fund (UNPF) and Children's Fund (UNICEF) for services for women and girls, and making statements in international fora, calling for the protection of women's rights in Afghanistan. You can read Minister Mahuta's letter here

Interactions like this between civil society/NGOs and the government are important, to provide transparency on the government's actions and to give clear indications to the government on what civil society considers important. We are an interconnected global village, and gender equality should not be a privilege only available to a lucky minority.  

Dame Catherine Tizard

We were saddened to hear of the passing of Dame Catherine Tizard today, a former Patron of Te Kaunihera Wahine o Aotearoa – the National Council of Women of NZ.
The Honourable Dame Catherine was an inspiring trailblazer and in her life and career received many honours for her contributions in public and community service.
In 1971, she became the first woman Mayor of Auckland. In 1985 she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and in 1989 she was the first woman in New Zealand to hold the post of Governor General. As part of her tenure as Governor General, Dame Catherine ended the practice of bowing to the governor-general on the grounds that "no New Zealander should have to bow to another."
She was also a recipient of the Suffrage Centennial Medal in 1993 and received New Zealand's highest honour when she was made a member of the Order of New Zealand in 2002. After leaving public office, she worked tirelessly for community causes. When asked about what she'd like her legacy to be, she once said, "To the best of my ability I tried to do some good, tried to make people's lives better in whatever way I could."
Thank you, Dame Catherine, for your long and distinguished service.

Suffrage day media 2021

National Council of Women branches around the country have been celebrating Suffrage Day 2021, some by reaching out to the media. We celebrate the mahi of our knowledgeable writers along with the media journalists and editors who help us tell our story to the world. Check out these articles written by Southland branch writers for the Southland Times, and by Whanganui writers for the Whanganui Chronicle and the River City Press: 

Are we there yet? The road to women's rights is long but we will get there (Margaret Cook)

Imagine life without fear of being judged (Rebecca Amundsen)

Hope for the inclusion of all cultures in New Zealand (Lyn Devery)

Ongoing work by women's organisations part of equality solution (Vanya Bailey)

Empowering women is a step towards nondiscrimination (Bev Chesney)


The ongoing struggle for women's rights in New Zealand (Carla Donson)

125 years of National Council of Women of NZ (Jenny Saywood - 16th Sep 2021, p. 8)



Suffrage and Afghanistan

NCWNZ calls on government to increase its support for Afghan women on Suffrage Day 2021

On the 128th anniversary of New Zealand women being the first in the world to win the right to vote, the National Council of Women Te Kaunihera Wahine o Aotearoa is concerned at the fragility of women’s rights around the world, and how easily rights that have been hard-won over decades can be erased, the President of NCWNZ, Dr Suzanne Manning, said today.

“We are particularly concerned at the situation in Afghanistan, where there are reports of ongoing human rights abuses, of women losing their basic right to education and employment, being excluded from society and forced to retreat into their homes,” Dr Manning said.

“We are calling on our government on Suffrage Day 2021 to announce additional measures to support women and girls in Afghanistan, and for the evacuation of at-risk Afghanis – especially women and girls who were associated with Aotearoa New Zealand’s mission in Afghanistan,” Dr Manning said.

“We support the call by numerous organisations and leaders in Aotearoa New Zealand for the government to increase the number of Afghanistan refugees we admit, to prioritise applications from women and girls, and to expedite the processing of Refugee Family Support visas and Critical Purpose Visitor visas.”

“We are also adding our voice to the voices of women leaders around the world who are calling for the government of Afghanistan to refrain from violence against women and girls and to uphold the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan,” Dr Manning said.

Even as we recognise our suffrage history and the work of suffragists and wāhine toa before us, we must also acknowledge that there is still much work to be done to achieve equality and better lives for women in Aotearoa New Zealand and around the world.

For further information contact:

Dr Suzanne Manning, President, NCWNZ

[email protected]

022 655 6512

125 Postponement

Our original plans for celebrating the 125th birthday of the National Council of Women - Te Kaunihera Wahine o Aotearoa  on Monday 20 September have been postponed, due to the current COVID-19 outbreak. We will celebrate at a rescheduled event when we can be sure that our whānau from Tāmaki Makaurau can join us.

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