Status of NZ’s Women In Decline Since Clark Era

Helen Clark

Women Deliver 2013 Conference – Helen Clark talks about the UNDP’s global engagement around the 2013 Social Good Summit and discusses priority issues for the post-2015 development agenda during the Women Deliver Conference in Kuala Lumpur. (click to listen)

New Zealanders are priding themselves on the speculation that former Prime Minister Helen Clark may be the first woman to run the UN (“Govt. will back Clark is she wants top UN job: Key”).

If that speculation proves correct, it is inevitable that her promotion will be held up as an example of New Zealand’s ‘progressive’ polices for the advancement of women in society. It will be used to draw more professional women to the country, with promises of rewarding and well paid careers.

Clark is a staunch advocate for the advancement of girls and women.

She’s been busy progressing the status of women around the world. Meanwhile, back in her old country women have taken retrograde steps. The rot set in during her last term as Prime Minister (remember the ‘Ditch the Bitch’ campaign?).

The PM was asked what he thought about Clark’s chances of getting the top job at the UN.

 Mr Key said he had not received any advice of her intentions, and it would be a hard job for her to get. (ed. why – because she’s a woman?).

“It would be well and truly sought after and these things are deeply political. But she’s done a very good job as the administrator of the UNDP. We would back her, but whether or not she can actually get there, I don’t know.”…

Labour MP Phil Goff…said having her in the post would be important for New Zealand’s interests, and her experience meant she was more than capable of doing the job…” more here

Here’s an interesting cameo of her legacy in New Zealand, we’d like to share this with our readers. It demonstrates beautifully the decline in women’s status in NZ since Helen Clark left for the UN.

“By the end of her nine years as prime minister in 2008, New Zealand’s governor general, cabinet secretary, attorney general and speaker were all women. Meanwhile, opponents in her last unsuccessful election urged voters to “ditch the bitch”…”

Of those 4 posts only one is still occupied by a woman.

The governor general is now Jerry Mateparae, the secretary of the cabinet – Rebecca Kitteridge, attorney general – Christopher Finlayson, speaker – David Carter.

New Zealand’s chief justice,  Sian Elias was also appointed during Clark’s tenure when she first took office in 1999. Elias has been in the post ever since.

So how’s the rest of the establishment looking under the present administration? Very much like an Old Boy’s Club.

25% of cabinet positions occupied by women

The cabinet has 20 members, only 5 of them are women – Nikki Kaye, Amy Adams, Ann Tolley, Paula Bennett and Judith Collins.

Outside cabinet there are 5 ministers, Jo Goodhew is the sole female.

Females are absent from top tiers of the Police

The Commissioner of Police, appointed by the governor general, is Peter Marshall -famous for saying he’d put a taser in every frontline vehicle but wouldn’t allow police officers to carry firearms. He is due to step down early this year. Chances of a woman getting the job – zero?

2 Deputy commissioners  – Mike Bush and Viv Rickard.

Assistant commissioner – Malcom Burgess.

Assistant Commissioners   Upper North – Allan Boreham; Lower North and South – Grant Nicholls; Road policing – Dave Cliff;  Operations – Mike Rusbatch.

Exec director prevention – Mark Evans.

Lower managers – only 2 women

General managers   finance – John Bole; Human resources – Brendan Keys; public affairs – Karen Jones; policy and legal – Katherine Anderson; Maori , Pacific and Ethnic services – Wallace Haumaha.

Chief information officer – Stephen Crombie.

According to the 2013 census

Females are in the majority in New Zealand – they make up 52.4% of the population.

57.8 % of graduates are female and over twice as many men as women have an income in excess of $70,000.

It is obvious New Zealand has a lot of catching up to do.

Good luck to Helen Clark, she does some sterling work. But never let it be said that gender politics, or equal opportunities in New Zealand helped put her, or anyone else, there.


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4 thoughts on “Status of NZ’s Women In Decline Since Clark Era

    • My wife is a Kiwi and she often laments how lazy Kiwi men are. She is happy to marry a foreigner and she recommends that Kiwi women date the imports rather than the shabby domestic product.

  1. Of course Key’s people are looking at it in terms of whether a UN promotion would be “good for New Zealand” or not. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway. The plight of women both in and outside of New Zealand would be of no interest to them. And PM Clarke was, truthfully speaking, not able to do much for women in NZ when she was in office. The culture is too backward. What angers me is the public stance of progressiveness when the interpersonal everyday reality is so freaking brutal retro.

  2. Agreed.

    The fact that women are in high status positions in any country is not necessarily an indicator of their status in society in general, both India and Pakistan, viciously misogynistic societies, had women as Prime Ministers.

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