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Working for equality
Engaging with women in the community

Working for equality

Why the Ministry exists
The Ministry’s work

The Ministry of Women’s Affairs was set up in 1986 to provide quality advice to improve women’s lives. The Ministry works to help create a society which:

  • is fair
  • respects both people and the environment
  • values the contributions of all women
  • allows Māori women, as tangata whenua, to reach their goals.

Why the Ministry exists

New Zealand can never be a truly successful and wealthy country until women take a full and active part in every aspect of life: social, cultural, political and economic. Paid and unpaid work need to be combined in equitable ways that do not put women’s economic independence, security, health, safety and well-being at risk.

Women still face many barriers:

  • women still do most home-based and unpaid work
  • women are still paid less than men, do more part-time work, and hold fewer top jobs
  • it is hard for many women to get access to the resources and health services they need
  • women are the victims of most violence
  • it can be hard for women to get justice
  • laws and policies do not adequately reflect women’s changing lives
    too little account is taken of the needs of the diverse groups of women such as Māori women, Pacific women, women with disabilities, rural women, migrant women, and women with low-incomes.

The Ministry’s work

The Ministry has three major roles:

  1. To provide high quality advice to the government on key issues that affect women’s lives, including the barriers that prevent them from taking a full and active part in New Zealand society.
  2. To provide and encourage the use of tools to ensure that gender analysis (see Planning for difference) forms part of all government decision-making.
  3. To facilitate access by women’s groups to government processes and services.

The Ministry of Women’s Affairs works by:

  • providing information and high quality advice
  • providing tools for gender analysis
  • creating opportunities to improve data collection and research broken down by gender and ethnicity
  • meeting and engaging with a wide range of women’s groups
    making sure that the views of Māori women as tangata whenua are heard and represented
  • leading policy development for the good of women
  • suggesting ways to monitor and evaluate programmes or changes for women
  • promoting women as decision-makers
  • ensuring that New Zealand meets its international commitments to women's rights.

Engaging with women
in the community

In December 2002, the Minister of Women’s Affairs launched a nationwide consultation programme to gain views on the discussion document Towards an Action Plan for New Zealand Women (full and summary versions available ).

These documents are the first step in developing an Action Plan for New Zealand Women for the future. Its key themes centre on economic sustainability, balancing work, family and community responsibilities, and general well-being. The Women’s Action Plan will provide a clear vision, set goals and a framework across government to advance women’s progress.




Logo of the Ministry of Womens Affairs.

Photo of Ruth Dyson at the Hamilton meeting.

Minister of Women’s Affairs, Ruth Dyson, and Dianne Yates MP enjoy a consultation meeting in Hamilton for the Women’s Action Plan.

Photo of women at the Hamilton consultation meeting.

Photo showing multi-ethnic women.