International Women’s Day—8 March 2013
Kia ora, tēnākoutou.Greetings to you all on International Women’s Day. It is an honour for me and my wife Janine, as joint patrons of UN Women New Zealand, to issue this message on International Women’s Day.
Since 1911, International Women’s Day has been marked around the world. It is a global day that recognises the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.
This year marks 120 years since New Zealand became the first nation in the world to grant women the right to vote in local and national elections. However, it was not until 80 years ago that the first woman was elected to Parliament.New Zealand has come a long way and achieved much—and yet much important work remains to be done.
The theme of International Women’s Day in New Zealand this year is:“A Promise is a Promise – Time to take Action on Ending Violence against Women and Girls.” It is a timely message. World leaders from governments and civil society organisations are currently in New Yorkat the 57th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women,discussing actions to prevent and respond effectively to violence against women.
Violence against women and girls is a serious offence. While there are laws in place to protect women, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs estimates that one in four New Zealand women experience sexual violence or violence by a partner at least once in their lifetime.
Violence against women carries a great cost for the victims of domestic violence, and also their families, communities, society and the economy. The heavy burden it places on the health, relationships, employment, productivity, earnings and quality of lifeof those affected can be widespread and long-lasting. Where that violence occurs within families, children are also victims and often suffer negative and long-term consequences.
Ending violence against women and girls requires leadership and action at all levels. As a nation, New Zealand has committed itself to ending violence against women and so it requires us of all—as communities, as families and as individuals—to give real meaning to that promise. Everyone can play a role in ending the cycle of violence. Everyone shouldpromise to never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence towards women and girls.
Lt Gen TheRt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM QSO
Governor-General of New Zealand