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    Default Women's lib in NZ


    113 years on, equality battle continues
    4.00pm Tuesday September 19, 2006
    By Lindy Laird

    New Zealand women won the right to vote in New Zealand 113 years ago today - but that didn't mean equality issues were all over bar the shouting. "It took another 70 years of nagging" before women could sit on juries, be Justices of the Peace or work as police officers, says longtime women's lobbyist Audrey Trimmer.

    President of the National Council of Women's Whangarei branch, Mrs Trimmer says the organisation continues to lobby for everyday rights that many people assume everyone already has. Equal pay and parity in employment was one of the more high-profile ongoing battles, along with the campaign to reduce violence in society.

    But there are very few Parliamentary select committee hearings to which NCW doesn't make submissions, Mrs Trimmer says - from the "Sue Bradford" bill regarding treatment of children to adding iodine to bread. "Everybody is amazed when I tell them that there is still an an ongoing struggle on behalf of women," Mrs Trimmer says. "There are so many things we take for granted now that wouldn't have happened if the National Council for Women hadn't lobbied hard for and made submissions to parliament."

    Mrs Trimmer fears that, although lobby groups will continue to work on rights and quality of life issues, younger generations had become blase about the events of 1893 which saw New Zealand lead the world in allowing women to vote. "I think it's a shame that New Zealand history isn't taught to the level it should be in schools."

    Christine Low, national president of the group that represents up to 250,000 women belonging to a wide variety of affiliated groups, said it was ironic that women's groups were still fighting for some of the same issues fought for by the suffragettes.

    "We have made some gains but it's far from over. There's still an awful lot of work to do not only for women but to benefit all of New Zealand society. "Freedom from violence, in particular," Ms Low said. "Calling it domestic violence just pigeonholes it. It's much broader than that. And pay equity is still but a distant dream for many."

    One of the major forces behind the women's movement in New Zealand was the temperance movement, mostly led by women from the Wesleyan Church. Their main motivation was to repeal liquor laws to limit the associated violence, waste and harm to families, and the need for women to have financial security - something that could only be done at a parliamentary level, hence the need for political representation. Ironically, Ms Low said, alcohol and pay parity were still major issues the lobby group was campaigning on in 2006.

    * On September 19, 1893, New Zealand became the first country where women could help elect the government. In some other countries women's right to vote came with provisos, or, in the case of the USA, was limited to a few states.

    * Kate Sheppard was recognised as the leader of the New Zealand suffrage movement. She went on to help form the National Council of Women in 1896. Her image adorns the $10 note.

    * Women in Mongolia had the vote (1924) before women in Britain (1928). In Spain women lost the vote in 1936 under the Franco regime and didn't get it back until 1976. In Australia the end of legislative discrimination against Aboriginal peoples gave native women the vote in 1962. Swiss women were allowed to vote after 1971, and in Bahrain women gained the vote in 2001.

    - NZPA

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    Default Re: Women's lib in NZ

    Pay equality in young women's grasp
    Saturday November 11, 2006
    By Simon Collins

    Young New Zealand women are closing the income gap, earning almost as much as their male colleagues.

    Women's average hourly wages are now just 3.7 per cent behind men's for those aged 30-34, while women aged 20-29 briefly earned more than men the same age three years ago, Statistics New Zealand figures show.

    Men are still well ahead in all older age groups up to 65. But young women are reaping the benefits of performing better than young men in education.

    In 37 per cent of working-age couples women now earn at least as much as their partners, up from 20 per cent 20 years ago. In 2001, women and men were in the same income bracket in 22 per cent of couples, up from 13 per cent in 1986, while in 15 per cent the woman was in a higher income bracket, up from 7 per cent.

    Women's Affairs Minister Lianne Dalziel said the trend looked "positive" and tied in with a closing of the overall gap between women's and men's hourly earnings. "It means that the gender pay gap is something that we may be able to see disappear," she said.

    But the vice-president of the Father and Child Society, Massey University economist Stuart Birks, warned of the problem of men falling behind. "Shouldn't we be worried that we are sowing the seeds of another problem in 20 years' time?" he asked.

    Council of Trade Unions vice-president Helen Kelly said the equality among young workers might be a result of all young workers being on low wages.

    Mother Bear

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