Imagine a world where community organisations such as the National Council of Women didn’t need to exist.

comvoices-picture-1Greta Parker
Marketing & Communications Mgr
National Council of Women of NZ

One day I’d like to do myself out of a job. One day I’d like organisations such as the National Council of Women, Age Concern, Women’s Refuge and Barnardos to close down – not because we’ve run out of funding – but because New Zealanders no longer discriminate based on gender, abuse older people, incite violence against women or leave our children to go hungry and cold.

Community and voluntary organisations in New Zealand continue to make progress in creating a more just society for us all to live in, despite being starved of resources. And while I cannot speak on behalf of the entire sector – I know that for the National Council of Women, we are just not making enough progress.

The organisation recently celebrated Founders’ Day – 121 years today since Kate Sheppard founded our gender equality organisation.  I wonder, did Kate Sheppard realise, when she founded the National Council of Women in 1896 – when New Zealand was so far ahead of the rest of the world in giving women the vote – that we would still be working so hard to achieve gender equality in 2017?

Women are being paid 11.8 – 14% less than male counterparts; one in four women experience intimate partner violence or sexual violence in their lifetime; and women only occupy about 30% of seats in Parliament.

Since 1896, New Zealand has progressed from the very first public screening of a film, to people being able to stream the latest movies on their iPad. Since 1896 we’ve progressed from importing the very first cars into our country, to now having approximately 3 million cars on our roads. We discovered and generated geothermal electricity, we opened an international airport in Auckland and we did our first heart transplant.

Entertainment, transport, electricity, international travel and ground-breaking operations – these developments have all hugely improved our quality of life. Sounds great huh? Yet meanwhile, we are not progressing where it really counts.

Our quality of life would be greatly improved if we were a gender equal country. The National Council of Women can see a better way of life for all New Zealanders – one in which we are all happier, healthier and economically stronger. I think if our founding President Kate Sheppard were to see where we are at today she would be pleased with some of the progress that has been made but also saddened by the gender inequality issues that still persist in our society. From health, safety, and economic wellbeing, to education, influence and decision making –gender inequality remains as a core issue.

Don’t get me wrong – we’re incredibly proud of our history and many of our achievements have made a real difference in the lives of New Zealanders. But collectively we need to do more. Because as gender inequality stands currently, I can’t imagine a world without the National Council of Women. And I want to.

This blog has been contributed by a member of ComVoices

ComVoices  actively promotes the value that community sector organisations and their people, both paid and unpaid, add to New Zealand’s economic and social wellbeing through information, and political advocacy and dialogue.

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