• Deborah Morris
Associate Minister of Women's Affairs

"The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has commended New Zealand on what it's calling a very good performance in advancements for women," the Associate Minister of Women's Affairs, Deborah Morris, said today.

Minister Morris presented New Zealand's report on the Status of Women to the committee in New York.

"Committee members complimented New Zealand on the progress over the last four years, detailed in the report.

"In particular, they praised New Zealand's Domestic Violence legislation and also commented positively on our decision to appoint a Women's Commissioner.

"Committee members did raise issues relating to women in the workforce, including paid parental leave and the gender pay gap - the gap between what men earn and what women earn.

"New Zealand's legislation ensures women taking maternity leave can return to an equivalent position, and we also provide free health care. Many employment contracts do include a provision for paid parental leave and the Government is looking at how it can encourage more employers to recognise the benefits of that.

"The Government is also actively working on measures to reduce the gender pay gap, including its support for the EEO Trust.

"New Zealand women currently earn 75 per cent of what men earn (based on total weekly earnings) and we must work to close that gap. However it's interesting to compare that to Australia, where women earn 66 per cent of what men earn, or Canada, where the figure is 73 per cent.

"The committee also noted the disparity between Maori and non-Maori women, and that's another area the Government is aware of and seeking to address.

"It is useful for us to be able to come to the United Nations to share information about these issues. New Zealand is seen internationally as a leader in the area of women's rights and human rights, and the Government is determined to keep working to maintain that reputation," Deborah Morris concluded.