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International Women’s Day a call to action in New Zealand

“Tuesday 8th March is International Women’s Day in New Zealand, and this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act 1972.

“We celebrate being the first country in the world where women won the vote in 1893. In 1999 we elected our first Female Prime Minister, and in 2001 the Governor General, Prime Minister, and Chief Justice were all female. This year Zoi Sadowski-Synnott claimed New Zealand’s first ever gold medal at the Winter Olympics.  On International Women’s Day the CTU is calling for New Zealand to take another step forward for gender equality, by ending the gender pay gap.

“On average, women are paid $3.78 an hour less than men in New Zealand – a gap of 10.8%. Women are effectively working 39 days for free. For some groups of women this situation is even worse. For Pasifika women the gender gap is 23.2% – meaning that they work for free for 84 days each year. For Māori women, the gender pay gap is 20.1% – meaning that they work for free for 73 days each year. For Asian women, the gender pay gap is 14.2% – meaning that they work for free for 52 days. All of these gaps represent an injustice against female workers in New Zealand.

“The gender pay gap is not only unfair, but it also has long term impacts on the lives of women across New Zealand. Lower pay translates into lower Kiwisaver balances, with evidence showing that women have 22% lower Kiwisaver savings than men.

“The CTU is calling on the government and employers to do more to truly close this gap. Pay equity claims have been made in the public sector, and these should be addressed as a matter of urgency by the government.

“Pay equity should be extended to the private sector so that all workers can receive the equal pay they deserve. Finally, we are backing the call of the Equal Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo for the introduction of a pay transparency mechanism to ensure that government and businesses uphold their domestic and international human rights commitments and employment law obligations.

“Women have waited 50 years for equal pay in New Zealand. This International Womens Day, lets commit to not waiting another 50 years for women’s pay equity,” says Tali Williams.