Women make progress, but not equal yet

The collective efforts of working women are reducing the gender pay gap, but there is a long way to go yet; particularly for Māori, Pasefika and Asian women.

As Public Service Association members mark International Women’s Day the union says there is much to celebrate.

“Progress was not just handed down from above, working people are still campaigning to make it happen. The PSA has pushed through pay equity claims for mostly female professions like DHB admin workers, Oranga Tamariki social workers, and home care & support workers,” says PSA National Secretary Kerry Davies.

“The current Labour government and the Public Service Commission have made clear commitments to support pay equity, and stronger equal pay legislation was implemented last year. It’s great the road ahead has fewer obstacles, but when Pasefika women earn more than 25% less than Pākehā men we clearly still have a long way to go.”

Successful pay equity claims have led to pay boosts of 30% or higher for some workers, which illustrates how far they had fallen behind.

New Zealand workplaces need more transparency about how much staff are paid, and why. This is important for gender equality, because women are more likely to take time off or request flexible working arrangements to accommodate their caregiving responsibilities.

“The PSA represents about 55,000 working women, more than 70% of our overall membership. For the first time in our history both National Secretaries are women, and thousands of staunch woman delegates form the backbone of our union in workplaces across Aotearoa,” says Ms Davies.

“To achieve equality, it’s not enough to have more women in leadership positions. We need to eliminate bias and discrimination in pay and work cultures everywhere, and guarantee improved conditions, respect and dignity for all.”

Further statements from PSA Women’s Network leaders

Nia Bartley, health worker

“Worldwide and from our beautiful Aotearoa, many strong and inspirational women from our past to the present, representing various walks of life and backgrounds chose to challenge and improve the societal status quo of women.

These leaders changed the political, economic and cultural spheres by getting involved and speaking up.

‘Let’s all choose to challenge’ is the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day. It is a day for us to celebrate women who came before us, who led the way and championed our rights. A day for us to celebrate women’s importance, to support and encourage our future leaders. To continue the drive for inclusiveness, fair and equal treatment, empowerment and – most importantly – ensuring our voices are heard. Women must always be seated at the decision making table.

Be safe, be kind, be brave and let’s all challenge to make a difference. Kia kaha!”

Reremoana Sinclair, local government worker

“As International Women’s Day approached, I reflected on the progress women have made through our united efforts in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Wāhine and tauiwi pakeha women built solidarity and worked together to make the ‘impossible’ possible. This illustrates the mana and strength we hold when we come together.

Māori women supported the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and sought the right to vote for members of the New Zealand House of Representatives. They also sought the right to vote and stand as members of the Māori parliament, Te Kotahitanga.

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