by Jan Logie
The Government will be in front of the U.N Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination tomorrow our time, and all expectations are they will not be given any gold stars.
NGOs and the Human Rights Commission have already presented and raised some serious concerns about the Government’s performance.
The Committee asked our NGOs for examples of services lost through funding cuts. They listed cuts to services working on prevention and coordination of family violence, access to legal aid, loss of community education, and imminent closure of the only post primary residential school for girls with intellectual impairment. I think we could add a few more, family courts, ACC sensitive claims, benefit advocacy services, lower cost prescriptions…
The Government themselves, in their report, note progress on family violence has not been adequate, yet when I questioned the Prime Minister in the House today on why they’d closed the Family violence unit, cut funding to family violence education and created a chaotic funding environment for essential services providers like women’s refuge, he listed off a long list of inquiries into child welfare/abuse. I think this Government is missing a gender analysis.
Apart from family violence this Government seems to think they’re doing ok by women. I don’t. Many measures in fact show us that things are actually going backwards
- A recent survey, commissioned by Next magazine, showed an increasing number of women feel they’re not getting a fair go. In fact only 5% think equality between the sexes has been achieved.
- Women’s unemployment is increasing
- Cuts in Govt. funding disproportionately impact on women such as cuts to ACC sexual abuse counselling
- There is a move away from addressing family violence with the closure of the family violence unit in MSD, cuts in education, and a real term decline in funding for support.
- The Govt is extending work testing for the DPB and incentivizing women not to have children while on a benefit.
In addition the Govt. has declined tangible improvements to the status of women such as
- Green Party proposal to modernise Equal Pay Act last year
- Green Party proposal to reinstate training incentive allowance
- Labour Party proposal to extend paid parental leave.
Judy McGregor our EEO Commissioner noted that we were at a turning point for women’s human rights in NZ and women need a strong report with recommendations that are specific and compelling.
I think that she’s right and the Government desperately needs to start considering the impact of their work programme on women.