Check out our Gender Inequality Infographics
Four key areas of inequality (click to download PDF)
Overarching key messages
- Gender Equal NZ, led by the National Council of Women, ran a Gender Attitudes Survey with Research NZ in late 2017.
- In August 2018 the Gender Attitudes Survey won a platinum Research Association award.
- The survey tested attitudes around gender roles – at home, at school, at work and in the community –and has given us a snapshot of where we’re at in New Zealand.
- New Zealand once led the world in gender equality, but we’ve now slipped to be ranked at 9th.
- Results from the Gender Attitudes Survey show that most New Zealanders (79%) agree that gender equality is a fundamental right for all of us.
- But the results also show a pocket of New Zealanders that hold old-fashioned views about gender stereotypes and roles.
- These old-fashioned views mean that women and gender diverse people continue to lose out (experience systematic discrimination) in the four key areas of inequality: education, economic independence, influence and decision making, and safety and health.
- Gender inequality negatively affects businesses, government, families and the community – as well as individuals of all genders.
- Discrimination doesn’t happen in isolation – and we need to recognise the negative effects of homophobia, transphobia, racism and other forms of oppression, along with sexism.
- As Kate Sheppard famously said ‘All that separates whether of race, class, creed or sex is inhuman and must be overcome’.
- While discrimination can be more subtle than it once was, gender inequality is revealed in our everyday interactions, attitudes and assumptions.
- For some, gender inequality is more obvious.
- For all of us, the job is not done.
Education key messages:
Best practice consent – and healthy relationships – education is the best tool we have to prevent sexual violence.
Currently, consent education in our high schools isn’t compulsory, even though we know best practice programmes will reduce our rates of partner and sexual violence.
‘Mates & Dates’, our only programme which meets best practice, is not available in all NZ high schools. We’d like to see this rolled out to every high school, so all young New Zealanders receive compulsory consent education.
Gender diversity education and inclusion:
In our high schools, transgender students are nearly five times as likely to be bullied as their peers, which impact both their access to education and their wellbeing.
We know 3.7% of secondary school students in New Zealand describe themselves as trans or “not sure” of their gender.
Which means about 1 in 25 of our young people don’t feel like the gender they were assigned at birth tells the whole story of who they are.
We need all students to be safe in New Zealand schools – no matter their gender.
It’s no coincidence that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields are largely dominated by Pākehā men.
Gender bias in our places of learning means that girls and gender diverse students are treated like they are not capable in STEM subjects.
This bias occurs outside of classrooms too – kids toys are heavily gendered, with “girls’ toys” mimicking domestic duties such as cleaning, washing, and child rearing.
Meanwhile, toys “for boys” often help to build and develop skills required for STEM fields: telescopes, building blocks, science kits, cars and trains etc.
Addressing this bias in our places of learning would create a huge shift toward equality.
The fact that we have a persisting pay gap in New Zealand is absolutely unacceptable – and it’s worse for some groups of women than others, because of racism, transphobia and other forms of oppression.
Pacifica women earn just two thirds of what Pākehā men do in New Zealand.
More than three quarters of disabled women earn less than $30K per year.
For many trans people, there are significant barriers to finding and keeping safe employment at all.
Too often we treat pay inequality as an individual issue and we hear things like ‘why don’t they just ask for a raise?’ – but gender inequality is a society wide, structural issue – it’s about structural systems and social norms.
Unpaid labour and parenting:
Women bear a bigger burden of unpaid work.
Breaking down ideas about traditional gender roles, where men are protecting and providing – being the breadwinner – and women are parenting and looking after the home, is essential to achieving gender equality.
Dads are parents too – they’re not babysitters.
Let’s modernise our culture, so we don’t see those strict gender roles around ‘breadwinners’ and ‘housewives’.
Traditionally ‘feminine’ roles like childcare, nursing and teaching are often lower paid.
This is due to gender bias – and the idea that these “nurturing” and “caring” roles are naturally more suited to women.
We need these roles be valued properly, and fairly.
Roles like these are absolutely essential for a healthy, functioning society.
We need to recognise the low pay in these roles for what it is – an undervaluing of women.
In 2018 the Football Ferns, New Zealand’s top women’s football team, made history by signing a historic deal guaranteeing gender equality and pay parity for Senior Women’s and Men’s National Football teams – which is a step in the right direction for one sporting code in New Zealand.
But as well as equal pay, it’s also important that we achieve equality for all genders, in all areas, of all sports – those playing, those in administration roles, those coaching, and of course referees and umpires.
This will require New Zealanders to consider how we can create equality of access to sport, which includes coaching, encouragement, promotion and support – from little kids to professional players.
Influence and Decision Making key messages:
Diversity in leadership:
Stereotypes around masculinity suggest that men are better providers and that “real men” earn lots of money, are powerful, have status and make decisions.
These ideas set women up as subordinate and reinforce the idea that men are superior to women – and are naturally more suited to decision making roles.
Further, the way we criticise women who are in charge – e.g. ‘feisty’ ‘ballbreaker’ ‘bossy’ – can be really damaging.
It’s important to note too that Māori, Pacifica and Asian women are both under-represented in leadership roles – and over-represented in lower paid roles.
We want to see better rates of women and diverse gender identities in management, governance, leadership and decision-making roles in New Zealand.
Not an individual issue:
Low rates of women and gender diverse in leadership positions is due to systematic structural inequalities – it is not an individual issue, where women and gender diverse people simply need more confidence and encouragement.
Safety and Health key messages:
Family and sexual violence:
Family and sexual violence are both a symptom and a cause of gender inequality.
New Zealand has the worst reported rates of family and sexual violence in the whole OECD – and much of this violence is linked to out-dated stereotypes and attitudes toward gender roles.
Gendered violence impacts particularly negatively on Māori, Pacific, Asian, migrant and refugee women, rural women, women with disabilities, and lesbian, bisexual, and trans women – as well as trans and gender diverse people.
People who don’t conform to gender or sexuality norms are often targeted for sexual violence.
The good news is we can stop gendered violence – by tackling the causes of gender inequality, and by stopping the people doing it, by stopping the people excusing it and by shifting the focus from victim blaming.
Part of the problem is what we think of as normal and what we are willing to let slide. We need all New Zealanders to question out-dated gender roles that set men up as aggressors and women as submissive.
Let’s do better – let’s be better, so that all genders can be safe from sexual and family violence.
Overall health, including mental health:
One third of New Zealand women report unmet need for primary health care compared to only 23% of men –and of course for trans and gender diverse people, access to healthcare can be even more difficult.
The idea that women should “have it all” can cause undue pressure and stress. Gender Equal NZ would like to see every woman in New Zealand having the choice to have a family and a career – or both, or neither – without prejudice or judgment.
Trans rights are human rights:
Discrimination towards trans people is a serious issue in New Zealand. The Human Rights Commission “To Be Who I Am” report in 2008, found trans people experienced serious discrimination in housing, employment and healthcare amongst other issues.
Trans women experience both transphobia and misogyny – and this results in high rates of sexual, partner and other forms of violence toward trans women.
Trans New Zealanders need the same rights as every other New Zealander – including access to respectful and appropriate healthcare and to be safe from gendered violence.
Abortion and reproductive health:
66% of New Zealanders agree that a woman should have the right to choose whether or not she has an abortion – while 14% disagreed. A further 15% of New Zealanders were neutral and 5% didn’t know.
We support the decriminalisation of abortion.
Abortion should be treated as a standard part of healthcare – safe, legal and accessible.
It’s also important to acknowledge that trans and gender diverse people can also become pregnant and need access to abortion or other reproductive health services. We support increased access to these health services for all people.
It is time we recognised women, and all pregnant people’s, rights to autonomy, choice and freedom.