IWD 2018 UN Women National Committee Aotearoa New Zealand President’s Message

UN Women National Committee Aotearoa New Zealand President’s Message for International Women’s Day 2018

Nga mihi o te ata
125 years ago, New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the right to vote.  In the spirit of that tradition, on this special day, we add our voices to honour the courage and persistence of one women, Kristine Bartlett, recently honoured as the New Zealander of the Year for successfully fighting for equal pay for work of equal value for female care workers.
International Women’s Day 2018 comes at a time of unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality, and justice.  Social media allows women around the world to immediately see how their sisters are battling to make progress. 
The women’s movement which, in decades gone by, flourished around kitchen tables, at play centres and Plunket is now, courtesy of the internet, international.  But, as Kristine Bartlett demonstrated, for these social media “moments” to spur change, they have to be followed by organisation, persistence, and determination.
This year the theme for International Women’s Day is gender equality and empowerment of rural women. 
In New Zealand, rural women, despite their huge contribution to the development of this country, face serious challenges.  While their work is critical for the running of farms and functioning of small communities, it is under-valued and mostly unpaid.  The reconvened Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles must include the situation of rural women in their work. 
And many of you will have been moved by the recent media stories about the difficulties facing midwives to care for rural women and their babies.  This is surely a basic right for all women wherever they live.
We have much to celebrate in Aotearoa New Zealand on International Women’s Day 2018.  Take time to give thanks to those wonderful first suffragists, all those who followed and enjoy your own celebrations. 
Let’s join activists around the world, organise and take action.
Barbara Williams
UN Women National Committee Aotearoa New Zealand

Celebrate International Women’s Day by donating to the UN Women Meri Seif Bus Project in Port Moresby Papua New Guinea.  Your donation will enable women and girls to reach school, market and work safely and free of sexual harassment and violence.