NZ women lag behind rest of world

Last updated 13:29 17/10/2012
MONEY MATTERS: New Zealand women are the fifth most economically empowered in the world, according to a new survey.

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New Zealand women are the fifth most economically empowered in the world, according to a new survey.

International consulting and management firm Booz and Company put together a list of 128 countries looking at women's access to education, equal pay, childcare and anti-discrimination policies.

New Zealand was behind four other countries - Finland, Sweden, Norway and Australia, which was at the top of the list.

Yemen, Pakistan, Sudan, Chad and Syria were at the bottom.

New Zealand ranked number one when it came to preparing them for the workforce through education, while it fell to 13th place for access-to-work police such as maternity leave and access to childcare.

Dr Sarah Proctor-Thomson, from Victoria University's School of Management, said while it was ''great'' to see high levels of women participating in education, it didn't necessarily translate to the position of women in work.

''There is quite a lot of evidence to suggest that women are still not reaching the levels of our public sector or our private sector companies that they should be,'' she said.

"I think the report signals fantastic opportunity for women in New Zealand, but there are barriers that are still in play, particularly in women's advancement at the highest levels."

The survey also showed New Zealand ranked 9th for equal pay for women, 17th for advancement and 14th for inclusion in the workforce.

Proctor-Thomson said New Zealand women were getting paid 15 per cent less than men in the public sector.
The pay gap varied in the private sector, but a recent poll showed women in accounting got up 26 per cent less than men, she said.

"Compared to other countries we are doing well in some areas, but there are key areas where there is still a lot of work to be done.

"If we have brilliant education and we've got protection, why do we not have equal representation of women at all levels of our society?"

Booz and Company partner DeAnne Aguirre said nearly one billion women will enter the workforce in the next decade, and there was compelling evidence they could be drivers of economic growth.

Estimates indicate that raising female employment to male levels could have a 5 per cent direct impact on GDP in the United States, and 12 per cent in the United Arab Emirates.

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"Positive steps intended to economically empower women not only contribute to the immediate goals of mobilising the female workforce, but also leads to broader gains for all citizens in such areas as economic prosperity, health, early childhood development, security and freedom," Aguirre said.

Booz and Company developed its Third Billion Index, using data from the World Economic Forum and the Economist Intelligence Unit, among other sources.

- Fairfax Media

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