Celebrating Women in our COVID response – International Women’s Day 2021

“This International Women’s Day I acknowledge the women who have been crucial in our COVID-19 recovery – our scientists, healthcare professionals, and essential workers – and everyone who is working every day to help women and girls achieve their potential in Aotearoa New Zealand,” says Minister for Women Jan Tinetti

“This Government is delivering for New Zealand women – a couple of weeks ago the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, and I announced that from June all primary, intermediate, secondary school and kura students will have access to free period products. This will make a huge impact on students’ wellbeing and help reduce barriers to education.

“We’ve passed world-leading equal pay legislation and delivered significant pay equity settlements, to make sure those working in female-dominated workforces are paid fairly.

“We have proved the gender pay gap can be reduced. With the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan, we’ve delivered the biggest drop in the public service gender pay gap in 17 years, it’s now 9.6 per cent - the lowest ever recorded. 

“And, we made sure our state sector governance boards are made up of at least 50 per cent women, and our senior leadership in the public service is 53 per cent women, because diverse boards make better quality decisions.

“We have extended Paid Parental Leave from 18 to 26 weeks, and increased Paid Parental Leave by up to $20 a week.

“We have boosted the minimum wage by $1.95 per hour since taking office. Women make up 60 percent of minimum wage workers, so these increases have really benefited the female workforce.

“We have boosted the incomes of around 384,000 families by an average of $75 a week through our Families Package, and helped make life easier for parents of young children with our Best Start payment - an extra $60 a week for up to the child’s first three years.

“We have expanded the free lunches in schools programme to provide lunch for over 88,000 tamariki, which has already created around a thousand new jobs – many of whom are women returning to the workforce after raising children.

“That’s a huge amount of work! I want to acknowledge the work that each one of you do to make New Zealand a better place for women and girls - particularly the work women have been doing in our COVID-19 response and recovery.

We know that during lockdown, much of the essential work AND domestic and childcare responsibilities were carried by women. We know that women’s employment has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. We know that our already shameful rates of sexual violence and intimate partner violence towards women are worse in times of uncertainty.

“The economic disruption from COVID-19 requires a tailored-response for women to address the immediate short term challenges, and provides an opportunity to build back better so that women are less vulnerable to labour market shocks like this in future,” Jan Tinetti said.

This Government will continue with our strong health response and get people back into work; we have already cushioned the economic blow for everyone with the Wage Subsidy.

“So thank you for all your hard work. I want to recognise all of you who managed home-schooling – that is no easy feat!

“I hope you all have a wonderful day this International Women’s Day, and celebrate all the amazing women who are the centre of our families and communities,” Jan Tinetti said.