National Council of Women of New Zealand asked what each party would do to improve the health and welfare of women. Their answers are as follows:
With respect to the health and welfare of women, it is acknowledged that there are distinct ethnic groups who have impaired health. ACT supports consumers having greater choice in their health provision, and the way they receive their health entitlements.
ACT believes that the government should state the service levels that it will provide in a transparent way and introduce greater funding contestability wherever possible in order that these levels are met more efficiently. Performance should be better monitored and made more available to the public. Where they have the ability to pay, consumers should be required to make co-payments in order to ration the use of care and to provide support to those without the ability to fund it themselves
The Green Party supports the right of women to choose what form of healthcare is best for their needs. We believe that primary healthcare should be accessible to all women and should be delivered in a manner that takes into account cultural considerations. We will ensure that groups of women that are considered high risk are provided services that target their needs. We will also improve access, without discrimination, to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services to enable women to enjoy bodily integrity and plan their family.
Welfare reforms have increased discrimination and reduced the effectiveness of the safety net for women, especially women with children. This is something that needs to be addressed with urgency.
We will be making further announcements in this area closer to the election.
- Address core gender equality issues (violence against women, gender pay gap) to improve the overall health and welfare of women.
- Our free tertiary education policy will allow women greater access to higher education and better paying jobs/lifestyle.
- Better and longer term access to therapy and mental health services.
- Decriminalise abortion: elective termination should be legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Free contraception
- Increased sexual health and family planning services
- Address high rates of eating disorders among girls and women
- Incorporate a gender perspective in town planning so streets are well lit and safe
- Incorporate gender mainstreaming in public spending (e.g., how much is spent on improving rugby facilities vs. making city life easier for mothers and parents?)
Labour will make GP visits and prescriptions free for the New Zealanders who need it most. Labour will make doctors’ visits and prescriptions free to children under 13, pregnant women, and people aged 65 and older, and extend the Care Plus program for people with long-term illnesses. The people with the greatest health needs shouldn’t have to bear the greatest costs, Labour will ensure they can afford the medical care needed.
These policies each have a positive impact for women, but to focus on one – we will provide free GP visits, prescriptions and dental care for pregnant women. The health of a woman during pregnancy has a huge impact on the health of her baby. We have included dental care as research shows oral health during pregnancy is also a major factor in the health of a newborn. We believe that all women should be able to get the medical help they need during pregnancy so that cost is no barrier to expectant mothers and their children being in the best of health.
Build 30,000 new homes for those on low-incomes to rent or rent-to-buy in the next Parliamentary term.
- Work to develop a high quality, prevention-focused public health system which is free and accessible for all.
- Include free health care for eyes, ears, and teeth in the public health system.
- Provide free family planning advice and free contraception.
- Increase access to and funding for mental health services.
- Raise benefit levels to a living level and extend relevant tax credits to all infants and children.
The National-led Government has been working hard to improve the health and welfare of women.
Over the past five years the Government has invested an average of $500m extra each year in public health services. Health funding is already targeted to high needs groups. Almost one in three New Zealanders can access low cost doctors’ visits.
Other achievements include:
- five years of record increases in elective surgery
- patients who need radiation or chemotherapy treatment, and are ready for it, now begin treatment within four weeks
- more women than ever before are taking part in screening programmes for breast and cervical cancer
- substantial investment in resources to help new mothers suffering with post natal depression and other mental illnesses
There’s always more to do, and we will continue to invest in our health services as part of our commitment to deliver better, sooner, more convenient healthcare for New Zealand families.
We would like to see a particular focus on the health and welfare of rural women – maternity services, family planning services would just be two areas we see require future focus. Barbara Stewart is passionate about pursuing solutions to the surgical mesh issue should we have an opportunity after this election.
United Future would increase funding for contraception and sexual health services.
We would improve access to parenting programmes for a wider range of parents.
We’d continue to support free and high quality early childcare.