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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?

    Easy.

    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.

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