UN Women National Committee Aotearoa New Zealand President, Barbara Williams - message for International Women’s Day 2017


UN Women National Committee Aotearoa New Zealand President’s Message for International Women’s Day 2017

On International Women’s Day we celebrate our successes and prepare for the challenges ahead.

In 2017, the global theme is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50:50 by 2030”.

2017 ushered in a new sense of activism and urgency for women worldwide starting with the global March for Women in January.

In New Zealand we have already seen some real progress this year - with the Government upholding the recommendations of the Joint working party for equal pay of work of equal value, Jan Logie’s Domestic Violence Victims Protection Bill before Parliament - and we look forward to its consideration by a Select Committee - and the Auckland District Health Board and the Royal Australasian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist apologising  at long last for the human suffering experienced by the women and their families caught up in the “Unfortunate Experiment”.

Time is ripe for change.

NZ has one of the highest participation rates of women in the paid work force at 64%.  We celebrate this fact but there is no room for complacency.  A large number of women are under employed, very poorly paid or trapped in jobs that do not harness their potential.  And there is still an 11% gender pay gap.

The Effect of Motherhood on Pay report just published tells us that there is a 17% pay gap between male and female parents.  This is totally unacceptable.  We need to be doing more to bridge this gap, to create a truly equal society.

The UN Women Aotearoa New Zealand National Committee, with our partners, helps bridge that gap through the Women Empowerment Principles, a framework that assists organisations implement gender equality and empower women in the workplace.  We celebrate that 48 New Zealand businesses are signatories, joining the 1400 worldwide.  They know that empowered women create power economies.

The national New Zealand focus for 2017 is the theme “Violence against Women: An Equality and Human Rights Violation”.

We recognise that violence against women and girls is a major threat to gender equality, and has significant impact on women in the workplace.  This threat is particularly pervasive in the Pacific.  It is important that on International Women’s Day we continue to show our solidarity for our sisters by supporting UN Women Pacific Fund projects for Ending Violence against women and girls.

We recognise with UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka that “To leave no-one behind, women and girls must be placed at the centre of efforts”.

The UN Women National Committee Aotearoa New Zealand wishes you all the best as you celebrate International Women’s Day and urges you all to step it up for gender equality.


Barbara Williams


UN Women National Committee Aotearoa New Zealand