13 July, 2012
Minister to present gender equality report to UN
Women’s Affairs Minister Jo Goodhew departs tomorrow on a visit to Washington, DC and New York. On Wednesday 18 July she will present New Zealand’s seventh report to the United Nations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
“The CEDAW report, prepared every four years, is a ‘report card’ on how well New Zealand women are doing according to international benchmarks,” says Mrs Goodhew.
“New Zealand ranks well internationally for gender equality but there are still areas where more progress is needed.
“For example, women comprise the majority of tertiary students and the gender gap for median hourly earnings is now 9.6 per cent - the lowest it has been since we began measuring.
“Health outcomes for New Zealand women also continue to improve. Comprehensive screening programmes for breast and cervical cancer are already contributing to lower rates of women’s morbidity and mortality.
“These are positive trends for women in New Zealand, however we could still do better at making the best use of women’s skills in leadership and the economy and reducing our rate of family violence.”
Mrs Goodhew will also attend meetings to discuss best practice and new ideas for progressing gender equality, particularly in the complex and challenging areas of reducing the remaining gender pay gap and increasing women’s safety from violence.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women is an international agreement adopted in 1979 by the United Nations. New Zealand was one of the first countries to sign the agreement and there are now 180 signatories. CEDAW defines discrimination as it applies to women and sets out an agenda for countries to end such discrimination. It is often described as an international bill of rights for women.
CEDAW contains a series of measures to end all forms of discrimination against women, particularly in law and application of the law. It supports the right of all women to have access equal to that of men to participate in all aspects of society.
Signatory countries must provide a report detailing progress towards CEDAW goals every four years. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs is responsible for managing New Zealand’s international obligations in relation to women.
New Zealand’s seventh report covers the period March 2006 to March 2010 and includes updates on women’s representation in governance, employment opportunities, pay equity, prostitution, violence against women and the needs of disabled women, Māori women, refugee and migrant women.
The full report is available at www.mwa.govt.nz.