web analytics

118 years on – what would Kate say?

Written By: - Date published: 4:15 pm, September 19th, 2011 - 15 comments
Categories: feminism, labour, uncategorized - Tags: ,

118 years to the day when NZ became the first country in the world to give women the vote.  You can imagine how incredibly proud Kate and the sisterhood must have been. You can imagine them lifting their eyes to the future and seeing women standing shoulder to shoulder with their brothers, equal in political rights (and determined to use them for moral reform).

It’s hard not to think then that Kate might be a little disappointed with where we are now. Women still get paid less than men. As a rule we earn nearly 13% less than our male colleagues. Women still do more housework and do the lion’s share of child rearing, are less likely to hold a leadership role, violence and sexual abuse against women in NZ are amongst the highest in the OECD and to add insult to injury  the new drunks on the block are young women.

So it’s good that Labour’s come out with its women’s policy today.

I’d like to think Kate would be pleased with it, albiet a little pissed that we still need it.


15 comments on “118 years on – what would Kate say?”

  1. Ari 1

    Well, it’s a start, but there’s still no place we can easily read the policy document, and it all sounds about targets and aspirations than solid plans to actually practically improve the lot of women (and thereby communities) in New Zealand. I would’ve thought they’d have had some concrete plans for this by now.

    • Carol 1.1

      I doubt that most people would take much notice of the detail at the moment. I would expect them to flesh it out more as we get closer to the election. I think it’s important to draw attention to how bad NAct are for women. And Labour has highlighted some key areas/issues in their press release.

      I will be looking at exactly how Labour plan to improve the lot of many women over the next couple of months, and will compare it with policies of other parties eg The Greens.

  2. Jenny Michie 2

    I couldn’t find the actual policy online anywhere but I do have a hard copy one here at work that someone gave me. It does talk about ‘investigating’ inequality to a degree that I would have thought slightly redundant. I reckon women, like Maori, are fairly well investigate out. Now we need legislation that provides what the open market doesn’t.

    • Ari 2.1

      Well, I think where privacy concerns can be addressed, even just requiring employers to disclose average gender pay information could be useful in closing that gap, so committing to figuring out a way to pass that sort of law while still addressing privacy would be a (very minimal) start. Investigation is no longer necessary, we know there’s a problem and we know its severity, and we even know that it pretty much vanishes in environments where blind audition is a possibility, too. I’m not sure how you could argue that there’s anything ambiguous in that.

      And, as has been pointed out below- that’s just for women who want to stay in fields where pay and promotion equality is an issue. There’s much more to women’s policies- from defending rights unique to women, encouraging family planning, to valuing work done by women including education, the arts, and unpaid work. Even just committing to putting some good bills along those themes up for discussion would be an excellent start.

  3. Tiger Mountain 3

    It’s a mixed bag really, I have noticed a trend ever since the first wave of Rogernomics sackings where women have become primary or major earners in couple type male/female relationships. A lot of women are flexible, open to the new, reskilling and just get on with things, and yes are still exploited and subject to subterranean tory misogyny. Hello Alasdair.

  4. RedLogix 4

    As much Kate Sheppard would likely be astounded at all that has changed; ultimately on reflection she would be saddened to see that her vision of equality somehow got hijacked into meaning ‘the same as men’. I very much doubt she had that in mind.

    After ten thousand years of patriarchy, throughout which men have dominated using the twin tools of aggression and money, we are more or less incapable of recognising power in any different form. We imagine a matriarchy to be merely the same thing as a patriarchy, only with the gender roles reversed… yet in reality it would have to be something quite different.

    As Jenny points out, New Zealand has little to be proud of; it’s like we got off to a great start in the 1800’s, then post WW1 an endemic anti-intellectualism took hold stifling anything other than the most agonised spasms of reform. While we more or less tolerate reform at the margins, such as the impacted homosexuals and sex workers, when it comes to something that might affect us all, we become deeply obstinate. Witness how we tore ourselves apart over something as simple as the S59 reform.

    Feminism has more or less reached the limits of what we can tolerate as a society. Stalled as it has been for a generation, the movement appears fractured and unlikely to repeat achievements as meaningful as Kate and her sisters achieved. At least not in the near future. Something much deeper has to give within us before the next quantum of reform is permitted.

    For it will be a fearsome thing. It will be a leap that releases the power of women to BE women, and exercise their innate capacity in their own fashion, in a manner we are of yet unable to properly conceive.

    • “Feminism has more or less reached the limits of what we can tolerate as a society”.

      Yeah right, pull the other one it plays jingle girls. New Zealand has a no limit policy for feminism. One only has to look at feminist weapons of war like CYFS ,Air NZ, TVNZ and Family Court etc..etc…

    • Ari 4.2

      Feminism has more or less reached the limits of what we can tolerate as a society. Stalled as it has been for a generation, the movement appears fractured and unlikely to repeat achievements as meaningful as Kate and her sisters achieved. At least not in the near future. Something much deeper has to give within us before the next quantum of reform is permitted.

      Bwahaha! No, I think you’re entirely off-base here. Feminist ideas sound scary and radical sometimes by virtue of the way they’re covered in mainstream political thought and media, but they’re usually pretty popular once people have gotten over the hype and actually seen them in practice.

      • RedLogix 4.2.1

        Ari… I think you misread my intent completely. And utterly.

        Slow down and pay more attention.

  5. Brett 5

    In what jobs do woman get paid less?

  6. Carol 6

    It’s not just about men and women being paid differently for the same job. That is less of a problem than it used to be, and I think it might still linger where individuals can negotiate there pay and conditions; e.g some lawyers.

    But there’s also a historical legacy where jobs traditionally done by large numbers of women get paid less than jobs traditionally done by men; e.g. compare pay for child care or early childhood education with other jobs requiring a similar level of training and expertise, such as bricklaying, plumbing etc. Underlying that is the way caring work is financially undervalued, sometimes being unpaid, even though it’s necessary to the country’s economy and well-being.

    Then there’s the issue that there tends to be fewer women getting promotions than men.

    Women DO have more opportunities and successes in paid work, and in a wider range of jobs than when I was in my 20s. With these successes, the situation has got more complex.

    But part of the reason for some of the successes is changes in the economy, society and occupational base – less unskilled manual work, expansion of relatively insecure part time and/or contract work, more pressure on families to acquire consumer goods (requiring that 2 adults in many families work) etc.

    With these shifts, some underlying attitudes to women’s secondary position in society (nurturing, family-centred etc, classed as lower in monetary value) have remained and these have been incorporated into the shifts in men’s and women’s roles.

  7. Bill 7

    118 years on – what would Kate say?


    Kate (witheringly): “Where’s the fucking money?! … Honey

  8. millsy 8

    Too bad there are people who want to turn the clock back and undo the advances of the feminist movement.

    The current moral panic over female binge drinking and violence, with some people drawing links between that and feminism is a case in point. (I am reminded of Victorian commentators going on about ‘loose, hysterical women”).

    I think we really need to start thinking about enshrining sexual, reproductive and relationship freedoms in the Bill of Rights, so those filthy god-botherers (who lead the charge against feminism) are stopped once and for all.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts


  • September benefit figures disappointing
    The Government is out of touch with the reality that fewer people are going off the benefit and into employment or study, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.  “The quarterly benefit numbers for September are concerning. They show that ...
    17 hours ago
  • MFAT officials refuse to back Prime Minister on Saudi sheep claims
    An Ombudsman’s interim decision released about the existence or otherwise of legal advice on the multimillion dollar Saudi sheep deal shows MFAT has failed to back up the Prime Minister’s claims on the matter, says Labour MP David Parker. “The ...
    19 hours ago
  • Nats still planning to take Housing NZ dividend
    Housing New Zealand’s Statement of Performance Expectations shows that the National Government intends to pocket $237m from Housing New Zealand this year including a $54m “surplus distribution”, despite promises that dividends would stop, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “After ...
    2 days ago
  • Parliament must restore democracy for Ecan
    Parliament has a chance to return full democracy to Canterbury with the drawing of a member’s bill that would replace the Government’s appointed commissioners with democratically elected councillors, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods. “In 2010, the Government stripped Cantabrians ...
    2 days ago
  • Police struggle to hold the line in Northland
    Labour’s promise of a thousand extra police will go a long way to calming the fears of people in the North, says the MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis.  “Police are talking about the Northland towns of Kaitaia and ...
    2 days ago
  • Urgent action on agriculture emissions needed
    Immediate action is required to curb agricultural emissions is the loud and clear message from Climate change & agriculture: Understanding the biological greenhouse gases report released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan ...
    3 days ago
  • Super Fund climate change approach a good start
    Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson and Climate Change Spokesperson Dr Megan Woods have welcomed the adoption of a climate change investment strategy by the New Zealand Super Fund. “This is a good start. It is a welcome development that the Super ...
    3 days ago
  • Raising the age the right thing to do
    The announcement today that the Government will leave the door open for young people leaving state care still means there is a lot of work to do, says Labour's Spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern "The Government indicated some time ago ...
    3 days ago
  • Coleman plays down the plight of junior doctors
    Junior doctors are crucial to our health services and the industrial action that continues tomorrow shows how desperately the Government has underfunded health, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Jonathan Coleman’s claim that he has not seen objective evidence of ...
    4 days ago
  • Inflation piles pressure on National and Reserve Bank
    While many households will welcome the low inflation figures announced today, they highlight serious questions for both the National government and the Reserve Bank, Labour’s  Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson said.  "While low inflation will be welcomed by many, the ...
    4 days ago
  • Officials warned Nat’s $1b infrastructure fund ineffective and rushed
    Treasury papers show the Government rushed out an infrastructure announcement officials told them risked making no significant difference to housing supply, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Like so much of National’s housing policy, this was another poll-driven PR initiative ...
    4 days ago
  • More cops needed to tackle P
    New Police statistics obtained in Written Questions show John Key is losing his War on P, highlighting the need for more Police, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “New Zealanders expect serious action on P but today’s hodgepodge of half-measures won’t ...
    5 days ago
  • MBIE docs show country needs KiwiBuild, not Key’s pretend “building boom”
    John Key’s spin that New Zealand is in a building boom does not change the massive shortfall in building construction as new MBIE papers reveal, says Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “We can fix the housing crisis, by the ...
    5 days ago
  • 1 in 7 Akl houses now going to big property speculators
    Speculators are running riot in the Auckland housing market making life tougher for first home buyers, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  Newly released data from Core Logic shows a 40 per cent increase in the share of house sales ...
    7 days ago
  • Labour mourns passing of Helen Kelly
    Helen Kelly was a passionate advocate for working New Zealanders and for a safe and decent working life, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.  “Helen Kelly spent her adult life fighting for the right of every working person to ...
    1 week ago
  • Andrew Little: Speech to the Police Association Conference 2016
    Police Association delegates, Association life members and staff, representatives from overseas jurisdictions. Thank you for inviting me here today. The Police Association has become a strong and respected voice for Police officers and for policing in New Zealand. There is ...
    1 week ago
  • 1,000 more police for safer communities
    Labour will fund an extra 1,000 Police in its first term to tackle the rising rate of crime, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Labour will put more cops on the beat to keep our communities safe. ...
    1 week ago
  • Call for all-party round table on homelessness
    Labour is calling on the Government to take part in a roundtable meeting to hammer out a cross-party agreement on ending homelessness.  Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the country wanted positive solutions to homelessness, and wanted the political parties ...
    1 week ago
  • Working people carrying the can for the Government
    Today’s announcement of a Government operating surplus is the result of the hard work of many Kiwi businesses and workers, who will be asking themselves if they are receiving their fair share of growth in the economy, Grant Robertson Labour ...
    1 week ago
  • Breast cancer drugs should be available
    Labour supports the Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition’s campaign for better access to cancer treatments as more patients are denied what is freely available in Australia, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “In the last three years, PHARMAC’s funding has been ...
    1 week ago
  • Community law centres get much needed support from banks
      New Zealand’s network of community law centres, who operate out of more than 140 locations across the country, have today received a much needed boost, says Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.  “After more than 8 years of static funding ...
    1 week ago
  • Just 18 affordable homes in Auckland SHAs – It’s time for KiwiBuild
    New data revealing just 18 affordable homes have been built and sold to first home buyers in Auckland’s Special Housing Areas show National’s flagship housing policy has failed and Labour’s comprehensive housing plan is needed, says Leader of the Opposition ...
    1 week ago
  • Pasifika wins big in Auckland elections
    The Labour Party’s Pacific Candidates who stood for local elections in Auckland came out on top with 14 winners, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio. “Our candidates have won seats on one ward, four local boards, two ...
    1 week ago
  • Seven7 hikoi to stop sexual violence
    1 week ago
  • Road toll passes 2013 total
    The road toll for the year to date has already passed the total for the whole of 2013, raising serious questions about the Government’s underfunding of road safety, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Sue Moroney.  “According to the Ministry of Transport, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bay principals slam charter school decision
    A letter from Hawke’s Bay principals to the Education Minister slams the lack of consultation over the establishment of a charter school in the region and seriously calls into question the decision making going on under Hekia Parata’s watch, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government needs to act on voter turnout crisis
    With fewer than 40 per cent of eligible voters having their say in the 2016 local elections, the Government must get serious and come up with a plan to increase voter turnout, says Labour’s Local Government Spokesperson Meka Whaitiri. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Inquiry presents solutions to homelessness – Govt must act
    Labour, the Green Party and the Māori Party are calling on the Government to immediately adopt the 20 recommendations set out in today's Ending Homelessness in New Zealand report. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A good night for Labour’s local government candidates
    It has been a good night for Labour in the local government elections. In Wellington, Justin Lester became the first Labour mayor for 30 years, leading a council where three out of four Labour candidates were elected. Both of Labour’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More contenders for fight clubs
    Allegations of fight clubs spreading to other Serco-run prisons must be properly investigated says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister runs for cover on job losses
    Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell’s refusal to show leadership and provide assurances over the future of the Māori Land Court is disappointing, given he is spearheading contentious Maori land reforms which will impact on the functions of the Court, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kiwisaver contribution holiday not the break workers were looking for
    The number of working New Zealanders needing to stop Kiwisaver payments is another sign that many people are not seeing benefit from growth in the economy, says Grant Robertson Labour’s Finance spokesperson. "There has been an increase of 14 ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Fight Club failings
    The Corrections Minister must take full responsibility for the widespread management failings within Mt Eden prison, says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Rethink welcomed
    The Labour Party is pleased that Craig Foss is reconsidering the return of New Zealand soldiers buried in Malaysia, says Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer. “For the families of those who lie there, this will a welcome move. The ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Disappointment over UN vote
    Helen Clark showed her characteristic drive and determination in her campaign to be UN Secretary General, and most New Zealanders will be disappointed she hasn't been selected, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. "Helen Clark has been an ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori need answers on Land Court job losses
    Māori landowners, Māori employees and Treaty partners need answers after a Ministry of Justice consultation document has revealed dozens of roles will be disestablished at the Māori Land Court, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Key’s ‘efficiencies’ = DHBs’ pain
          John Key’s talk of ‘efficiencies’ ignores the fact the Government is chronically underfunding health to the tune of $1.7 billion, says Labour’s Acting Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.       ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More than 1,300 schools to face budget cuts
    The latest Ministry of Education figures reveal thousands of schools will face cuts to funding under National’s new operations grant funding model, says Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Speculation fever spreads around country
    House prices in Wellington, Hamilton and Tauranga are going off as a result of uncontrolled property speculation spilling over from the Auckland market, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Speculators who have been priced out of Auckland are now fanning ...
    3 weeks ago
  • New Zealand lags on aid targets
      The National Government needs to live up to its commitments and allocate 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on development assistance, says Labour’s spokesperson on Pacific Climate Change Su’a William Sio.  “The second State of the Environment Report ...
    3 weeks ago
  • War on drugs needs more troops
    The Minister of Police must urgently address the number of officers investigating illegal drugs if she is serious about making a dent in the meth trade, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash.  “Answers from written questions from the Minister show ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Doctors strike symptom of health cuts
    The notice of strike action issued by the junior doctors today is the result of years of National’s cuts to the health system, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government starves RNZ into selling Auckland asset
    Just weeks after TVNZ opened its refurbished Auckland head office costing more than $60 million, RNZ (Radio New Zealand) has been forced to put its Auckland office on the market to keep itself afloat, says Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government must be more than a bystander on the economy
    Despite what he might think John Key is not a political commentator, but actually a leader in a Government who needs to take responsibility for the conditions that mean a rise in interest rates, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “John ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Māori Party all hui no-doey on housing
    The Māori Party should stop tinkering and start fixing tragic Māori housing statistics in the face of a national housing crisis, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesman Kelvin Davis. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Labour committed to eliminating child poverty
    Labour accepts the challenge from Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft to cut child poverty and calls on the Prime Minister to do the same, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    3 weeks ago