New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern targets equal pay for women

Weinstein debate must lead to real change for women, PM says

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the world’s youngest female leader, has promised her party “will not rest” until pay equity is achieved in New Zealand.
Ardern says her government aims to achieve pay equity for women in the public service within four years as a catalyst for widespread change.

In an interview on Tuesday in Wellington, Ardern, 37, said:

 “If New Zealand is seen as a champion of issues around gender pay gap and pay equity, I would be proud of that. I know, though, that we will only be seen as a world leader if we’re able to make inroads ourselves.” 

Ardern’s Labour government swept to power last month on a pledge to put a human face on capitalism by intervening to address social failures, including the treatment of women in the workplace.

The Labour leader spoke at a rally fighting for equal pay at Auckland’s Suffrage Memorial in Khartoum Place back in August. She said:

“In 2017 there should be no such thing as a gender pay gap in New Zealand. I am committing that Labour will not rest until we have pay equity in New Zealand,”

“We need our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our aunties, to be valued no matter what workforce they are in. Let’s start by scrapping the equal pay legislation that is before parliament, because it will not deliver equal pay.”

New Zealand ranked ninth out of 144 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report for 2017, well ahead of neighboring Australia, which placed 35th.
According to Statistics from New Zealand data, while its pay gap has dropped to 9.4 percent (half the UK’s 18 per cent) this year from 16.2 percent in 1998, the Ministry for Women says progress on closing it has stalled in the last decade.

Ardern is the country’s third female prime minister, and the Governor General and Chief Justice are also women. However, there is only one female chief executive officer among the 50 companies on New Zealand’s benchmark stock index.

Ardern said closing the gender pay gap among the 46,000 core public service workers will send a strong signal to the private sector to follow suit.

“In 2017, we cannot continue to send a message to young women that they can expect to be paid 10 percent less simply for their gender,” she said. “That is not a message that can continue.”

 

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