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Women in New Zealand
""Maori woman Picturesque New Zealand, 1913.jpg
A Maori woman from New Zealand, 1913.
"Gender Inequality Index[1]
Value 0.185 (2013)
Rank 34th out of 152
"Maternal mortality (per 100,000) 15 (2010)
"Women in parliament 32.2% (2013)
Females over 25 with "secondary education 95.0% (2012)
Women in labour force 62.1% (2012)
"Global Gender Gap Index[2]
Value 0.7799 (2013)
Rank 7th out of 144

Women in New Zealand are women who live in or are from "New Zealand. The first female settlers in New Zealand were "Māori. The first known "European woman to settle in New Zealand was "Charlotte Badger.[3] Today, women in "New Zealand, also called Kiwi women, are descended from European, Asian and Pacific Islander stock. Women of New Zealand have legal equality with New Zealand men.


Notable New Zealand Women[edit]


Early university graduates were "Emily Siedeberg (doctor, graduated 1895) and "Ethel Benjamin (lawyer, graduated 1897). The Female Law Practitioners Act was passed in 1896 and Benjamin was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand in 1897.

Political and legal history[edit]

During the early-mid nineteenth century there were significant differences between the worlds of Maori and European women. While married European women were considered to be subsumed under their husbands' legal status and could not own land, high ranking Maori women could and did own and inherit land.[4] Many Maori women held positions of social influence and were signatories to the "Treaty of Waitangi.[4]

The founders of European settlement in New Zealand such as "Edward Gibbon Wakefield encouraged settlement by families instead of single men because women were believed to have a "civilising" influence[4] however the restricted position of women under English laws and customs increasingly constrained the actions of Maori and European women alike.

In 1893, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world to allow women to vote.[5] This included both European and Maori women. However, it was not until 1919 that women were allowed to run for Parliament, and Elizabeth McCombs became the first women elected to the Parliament in 1933.[6] In 1949, "Iriaka Ratana became the first Maori woman to win a seat in Parliament.[5]

In 1997 "Jenny Shipley became the first woman Prime Minister of New Zealand.[7]

In 1999, "Helen Clark became the second woman (and first elected woman) Prime Minister of New Zealand.[8] Clark served three terms in office and was Prime Minister until 2008.[7]

As of June 2016, women make up 31.4% of the unicameral New Zealand Parliament. There are 121 members, 38 of whom are women.[9]

Economic Status[edit]

The gender pay gap in New Zealand is twelve per cent.[10]

The Development and Advancements of Women[edit]

Governmental Goals[edit]

New Zealand's government is making efforts towards improving its overall economic status and prosperity through increasing Women's involvement and leadership in society.

In 2004, a five-year plan known as The Action Plan for New Zealand Women was launched in an attempt to progress work-life balance, economic stability, and well-being for women. In response to this proposed plan, 52 meetings along with stakeholder meetings took place in an effort to deliberate and advocate the new priorities for women.[11]

Disabled Women's Access to Education and Employment[edit]

As of 2006, about 332,600 women (16.2%) were considered to have a disability with only about 50% of those women having an involvement in the labor force as opposed to men with about 70% involved. Women with disabilities in New Zealand lack access to programs to help learn the ways to utilize their disabilities, potentially explaining the large number of women who are not in the labor force.[11]

However, in February 2009, a Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues was created by the government to target issues such as: modern disability support, making New Zealand accessible for the disabled, and getting more citizens to contribute to the effort. These efforts make up the vision outlined in the New Zealand Disability Strategy.

For additional information of disability rights in New Zealand click here: "Disability rights in New Zealand

Discrimination, Prejudice, and Prostitution[edit]

Racial Discrimination[edit]

Despite New Zealand being a country that consists of many different integrated cultures and referred to as one of the most tolerant countries in the world, the Māori and Pasifika continually face racial discrimination.[12] The main outlets of this racial discrimination typically tend to be work, education, and justice. The "Māori and Pasifika people usually lack a solid educational foundation which ultimately increases their tendency to use drugs, alcohol, and inflates their unemployment and poverty rates. Māori struggle to find employment among a society in which they stand as outcasts with their lack of education. The State often argues that the cause of the inability for migrant populations to acquire jobs stands in the fact that many lack the necessary experience and ability to speak fluent English. Despite the Māori people usually not fulfilling the standards to be employed, the government is making efforts to advocate on behalf of the Māori and the advantages of having a diverse workforce in New Zealand.

Māori Women[edit]

Although the Māori people are largely discriminated against as a whole, the women are the most heavily impacted by the gendered aspects of racial discrimination. Māori women are greatly impacted by their lack of access to employment and health and fear the violence that is inflicted upon many Māori women. However the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) shows deep concerns regarding the violence towards Māori women and is hoping to increase the prosecution rates of those who attack women.[12]


New Zealand is recognized as being one of the most liberal countries in the world regarding sex and prostitution laws. In June 2003, the Prostitution Reform Act was passed which decriminalized prostitution.[13] Prior to the "Prostitution Reform Act, prostitution was still prevalent in New Zealand societies but more widespread and underground. Sex workers serve to benefit from this law as it provides them with a certain level of protection from the police force and allows for them to have specified rights. Brothels and areas of sex exchanges can be found all throughout New Zealand in modern-day society with Auckland offering the most services in the country.[14]

See also[edit]

Reference List[edit]

  1. ^ "Table 4: Gender Inequality Index". United Nations Development Programme. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Global Gender Gap Report 2013" (PDF). World Economic Forum. pp. 12–13. 
  3. ^ The first woman settler? - go-betweens
  4. ^ a b c Brookes, Barbara. A History of New Zealand Women. Bridget Williams Books. 
  5. ^ a b "Māori Women and the Vote". 
  6. ^ "Women's Suffrage: A Brief History". 
  7. ^ a b "List of Prime Ministers of New Zealand". Wikipedia. 2017-04-13. 
  8. ^ "Biography - Helen Clark". 
  9. ^ "Women in National Parliaments". 
  10. ^ "Gender pay gap | Ministry for Women". women.govt.nz. Retrieved 2017-05-05. 
  11. ^ a b "The Status of Women in New Zealand" (PDF). Ministry for Women. 
  12. ^ a b "Racial discrimination in New Zealand: Māori at the heart of the debate | WILPF". wilpf.org. Retrieved 2017-07-31. 
  13. ^ "Decriminalising sex work in New Zealand: its history and impact". openDemocracy. 2015-08-20. Retrieved 2017-07-31. 
  14. ^ "Sex and Prostitution in New Zealand Tourism". TripSavvy. Retrieved 2017-07-31. 

See also[edit]

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