Good change in the world

Gender equality. Can we have some please?

I was on The Panel on Radio New Zealand last week with Bernard Hickey and Jim Mora. Each day on The Panel, the guest speakers have a chance to talk about a topic that’s been on their mind. I sometimes find it difficult to choose; it’s an awkward balance between what’s actually on my mind, and what I think listeners will be interested in.

Last week I talked about gender equality.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot, particularly lately, in light of the #meetoo campaign, confronting sexual harrssment and sexual violence, and conversations I’ve had about that with friends.

It’s also particularly relevant in light of  the very gendered nature of some of the criticism of our new Prime Minister, including the bizarre fascination with how much she’ll earn as PM, and the insinuation that it should somehow be less – an insinuation her two predecessors did not have to endure.

Sometimes the sexism we see is so blatant and unsubtle, it can make you want to laugh – for example some feedback Radio NZ received recently, from a listener who grumpily texted that he “wanted to hear more human opinion, not just women’s opinion”.

But it does seem strange that in 2017, we are still trying to make the case that women are people too.

There are still a lot of people out there who don’t accept that things are – demonstrably – worse in many ways for women, even in this fine country of ours.  Women are still paid less, own less, hold few positions of power.  The physical and economic power imbalance hurts women in ways that men often don’t experience, can’t see, sometimes can’t understand and – too often – dismiss.

So the National Council of Women has launched a new campaign to increase understanding and – in so doing – right the balance.

They’ve created the Gender Equal NZ campaign, and some of their first pieces of work focus on creating a fact base: undertaking a gender attitudes survey and a gender equality dashboard.

This is an excellent initiative. It’s already hard going – some of their social media work is drawing a lot of anger from people who are – for whatever reason – opposed to this campaign and its messages.

If you agree this is an important issue, the Gender Equal campaign could use your help.  You can find out more here.

And you can hear the discussion about it on The Panel here.


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