I don’t know if today has any significance in your part of the world, but here in Aotearoa New Zealand the 19th of September is a time to reflect on a major milestone in our country’s history.
It was 124 years ago today that women won the right to vote, making New Zealand the first self-governing country where women were able to vote. However it was not until 1919 that universal suffrage was attained – the right to vote and stand for election. So in this regard, New Zealand was somewhat tardy.
While considerable progress has been made since then – for example, 46% of senior position in the public service are held by women, we still have some way to go. Women are underrepresented in Parliament (only 30% of members of Parliament are women) and in senior management roles in the private sector.
There’s still a pay parity gap. Women on average earn 9% less than men. This is mainly because many of the roles traditionally undertaken by women, and where today women still greatly outnumber men, are undervalued and and are paid poorly. For example nursing, childcare, and teaching.
In the legal and medical professions, the majority of graduates since the early 1990s have been women, yet less than 20% of senior legal partners are women, and much the same applies to senior management in the medical profession.
So while we should be proud of the progress made, it’s also a time to reflect on what each of us can to to bring about true equality.