New Zealand is among the top five countries in the world to accord equal opportunity to women, according to the latest UN Report of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
The seventh, quadrennial Report placed New Zealand ahead of most developed countries including Australia, which was ranked 23rd in the global list.
The Report recorded progress in a number of areas including education, health and income gap.
Commenting on the Report, Women’s Affairs Minister Hekia Parata said Maori women were doing better in education but still lagged behind non-Maori in many areas.
“Maori women now have the highest tertiary education participation rates and the rate at which they are gaining school-based qualifications is increasing faster than other women,” she said.
She said the trends were encouraging but cautioned against complacency.
“We have to do better across the board.”
But the CEDAW Report said New Zealand was still not making the best use of the talent of women in the country’s leadership and economy.
Ms Parata acknowledged the comment, saying that New Zealand still had a high rate of women in paid employment (and not entrepreneurship), placing it ninth in the OECD.
She said women were under-represented in senior management positions.
“This is not just a fairness issue. It is a productivity issue. New Zealand cannot reach its full potential if we do not make the best use of all the skills available to us,” she said.
Ms Parata, who was appointed to the ministerial post two months ago (following the resignation of Pansy Wong), pledged to address the issues on priority and achieve the national objective.
She said sexual violence and family violence were also critical issues mentioned in the CEDAW Report.
“There are some signs that we are beginning to change attitudes towards family violence, but there is a long way to go before we significantly reduce violence against women and children. As a Government we are determined to make a difference in this area,” Ms Parata said.
The UN adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women as an international agreement adopted in 1979.
Often described as ‘The International Bill of Rights for Women,’ it aims to end discrimination against women. New Zealand was among the first countries to sign the agreement and there are now 180 signatories.
CEDAW supports the right of women to have equal opportunity to participate in all areas of activity.
The Women’s Affairs Ministry in New Zealand is responsible for managing our international obligations in relation to women. It submits the country’s Status Report to the Convention every four years. The CEDAW reviews the Report, along with submissions from other groups such as the ‘National Council of Women of New Zealand,’ the ‘Maori Women’s Welfare League’ and ‘Pacific Women’s Watch.’
Source: Ministry of Women’s Affairs