The National Council of Women of New Zealand supports the College of Midwives taking action over what the college sees as structural sexism which impacts on midwives’ pay and conditions and the level of support women giving birth receive.
Council National President Rae Duff said while over time women had made progress towards gender equality, inequality still persisted, including in the workplace.
“Statistics show that women are paid less than men for the same work and face additional hurdles if they seek to progress up the career ladder. Sexism in our society causes structural inequality, which creates barriers for many women to have the same employment outcomes as men,” Rae said.
“It is heartening to see that female dominated industries are testing, through objective means, whether workers receive less money because their sector is generally associated with women. It represents progress in gender equality that awareness of pay inequality has increased to the point where it’s translating into action.
“We commend the College of Midwives for having the bravery to take this case, both for their workers and also the families of New Zealand. The National Council of Women supports high quality services for pregnant women and new parents. A sufficiently remunerated and supported workforce is critical to valuing pregnant women and the role of new parents.
“Like most gender equality issues, the ones that the College of Midwives’ legal case raise are long-term, systemic and transcend party politics. The college says it has sought resolution with various governments for 19 years.
“New Zealanders of all genders today have many more occupational and life choices open to them than previous generations. We need our institutions to identify where they are out of step with the greater gender freedom and still operating in a sexist way to penalise women.”
The National Council of Women works toward a gender equal New Zealand. It was established in 1896, with Kate Sheppard as founding President. Today it has around 290 member organisations, 260 individual members and 20 branches around the country.