Recent reports from the World Economic Forum (WEF) (2023) have unveiled intriguing insights into the state of gender equality worldwide, and it turns out New Zealand is not such a bad spot as an aspiring female.
The WEF report delves into multiple dimensions of gender equality, encompassing women’s economic participation, gender pay gaps, employment and leadership roles, education attainment, literacy rates, health, life expectancy, and female representation in politics.
In their evaluation, New Zealand emerged as a shining example of progress. Ranking fourth globally, it stands as the top performer for gender equality in the southern hemisphere – closing the gender gap by 85.6%
In 1893, New Zealand made history as the first self-governing country worldwide to grant women the right to vote. Fast forward to 2023, New Zealand once again captured international attention by forming a parliament where 60 female MPs and 59 male MPs worked together, setting a global precedent for diverse political representation.
Our commitment to diversity extends beyond gender, reflecting our multicultural society with an increased presence of women, people of colour, LGBTQ+ individuals, and indigenous MPs. This inclusivity is mirrored in our 20-person Cabinet, comprising eight women, five Māori, three Pasifika, and three LGBTQ+ community members.
Jessica Vredenburg, a marketing professor in New Zealand, shares her experience of gender equality in academia with WEF. She highlights that gender balance is not just a political achievement but also a feature of our educational institutions, saying “In my experience, at least in the business school, the gender split is really quite even, In our marketing department… we might even be more female-heavy than male. My dean is female, most of my colleagues are female.”
While we’ve undoubtedly made impressive strides in gender equality, it’s essential to confront the areas where we can improve. The WEF report reveals that, despite our high ranking, women in New Zealand still earn an average annual income of $33,620, compared to $52,370 for men.
Additionally, our ranking of 37th in wage equality for equal work reminds us that there’s work to be done. We must also take note of our relatively low ranking in female life expectancy, standing at 109th globally.
Our high rankings in the WEF report and our historic achievements in empowering women underscore our commitment to creating a fair and inclusive society. But, as we celebrate these successes, we also recognize that there is more work to be done.