NZ women doing well but could do better - report

New Zealand is doing well in gender equality but women still struggle to gain leadership roles and suffer from high levels of domestic violence, a new report says.

The New Zealand Government reports to the United Nations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) every four years on how well New Zealand women were doing.

Women's Affairs Minister Hekia Parata released the latest report today.

"We have a high rate of women in paid work - ninth in the OECD - but women are still under-represented in senior positions," Ms Parata said.

"This is not just a fairness issue, it's a productivity issue. New Zealand can't reach its full potential if we're not making the best use of all the skills we have available to us."

Women make up 41.5 percent on state sector boards and committees. However the figure is crashingly worse for the 100 companies listed on the New Zealand Stock Market - less than 9 percent of directors as at 2007.

The gender pay gap was proving tough to improve. "(It) has stubbornly sat at around 12 percent for the last decade and there is evidence that gains in relevant areas - such as women's success in tertiary education - are not automatically leading to women and men being rewarded more equally," the report said.

Sexual violence and family violence continued to be serious problems, it said.

"There are some signs that we are beginning to change attitudes towards family violence, but there's a long way to go before we significantly reduce violence against women and children," Ms Parata said.

Tackling the problems was a Government priority.

The Cedaw report found progress in education and pay.

"Maori women's educational attainment still lags behind non-Maori, but there has been some improvement," Ms Parata said.

"I'm encouraged by the trends, but complacency forms no part of our drive to do better across the board."

Ms Parata said in the most recent Global Gender Gap Report New Zealand was again ranked fifth in the world, behind the Scandinavians. Australia was rated twenty-third.

Labour MP Sue Moroney said the Government had not told the full story in the report.

"The report was prepared by Pansy Wong as Minister of Women's Affairs, signed by Georgina te Heuheu as acting minister and is now being trumpeted by new minister, Hekia Parata.

Ms Moroney said the Government stopped pay equity audits for school support staff and CYFS social workers in 2009, cut $1m per year from work on reducing the gender pay gap, reduced early childhood education, and made other changes that impacted on women, Ms Moroney said.