National Council of Women President and Gender Equal NZ Spokesperson Vanisa Dhiru says slipping to be ranked 9th is shameful for all of us.
“In Aotearoa New Zealand we like to think we are pretty equal. We were the first country to give women the vote after all. Where we once led the world in gender equality, we’ve slipped again from 6th in 2012 and 5th in 2009 to now be ranked 9th. We’re going backwards.”
The report measures 144 countries on their progress towards gender equality across four key areas: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment. Statistics show us that NZ has gaps in all four of these areas:
• Did you know Pacifica women earn just two thirds of what Pakeha men do in New Zealand?
• In our high schools, transgender students are nearly five times as likely to be bullied as their peers, which impacts both their access to education and their wellbeing.
• One third of New Zealand women report unmet need for primary health care compared to only 23% of men, and of course for trans and gender diverse people, access to healthcare is even more fraught.
• Did you know just one third of our MPs are women?
“Despite the fact that we now have a female Prime Minister, there’s still a gap” says Vanisa, “a gap between what people think equality is – and the everyday interactions that reveal the reality of our situation. It comes down to what we think of as normal.”
How many New Zealanders have called their mate a ‘pussy’? How many New Zealanders have called Dad’s parenting, ‘babysitting’? “Man up”, “he throws like a girl”, “look what she’s wearing, she’s gagging for it”, “I’m not doing that it’s women’s work”. Sexism – it’s everywhere – but we don’t even notice half of it.
“I ask all New Zealanders – how much further do we need to slip before we collectively do something about it?” says Vanisa. “Taking action can be as simple as pointing out how damaging a sexist “joke” can be or calling out stereotypes when you hear them. You can also become a member of Gender Equal NZ. We need more members to help us close this gap.”
Our children are a blank canvas. If we don’t change this now, our daughters will soon learn that they are not worth as much as our sons. And our sons will soon have their feelings stripped away from them – learning that keeping it all inside is much better than being called a ‘pussy’.
The Global Gender Gap Report 2017 said that at current progress the global gender gap will take 100 years to close, with the workplace gender gap taking 217 years. Gender Equal NZ says this is too long – New Zealand should be leading the world on closing the gap.