The Forum of Women Parliamentarians was held in Saint Petersburg as part of the 137th IPU Assembly. There the EWC journalists met Sarah Dowie, Member of the New Zealand House of Representatives. In her interview, she shares interesting information about the country, which was the first to provide women with the right to vote. 

What is the role of women in your country? 

– Women are taken seriously in New Zealand. Our country was the first state in the world to give women the right to vote. Since then, women have been trying to take influential positions in order to ensure that women’s voices do matter in politics, judicial matters, and in other fields of activity. But, still, we have what to strive for. Our Parliament has only 38% of women among its members. New Zealand seeks to achieve equal representation of men and women. We also have gender pay gap, but it is the smallest in the world. In general, women live quite well in my country. 

What challenges does New Zealand have in terms of trying to achieve complete gender equality? 

– I was just talking about gender pay gap. In fact, its level in our country is about 11%. It is quite not bad if comparing with pay gap levels in other states. But we must keep of working on elimination of this phenomenon. This one of our main targets now. We also have another task, which is to provide men and women with equal opportunities in what they do. The question is whether women will be able to do what they want to do. Of course, in New Zealand they will. 

We also have some problems to solve. Domestic violence is one of them. Statistically, women usually suffer from it most. In this regard, our government has recently developed new laws struggling against domestic violence to protect women. In addition, special measures are now being taken to help women become financially independent. 

What laws protect gender equality in your country? 

– I have already mentioned the law against domestic violence. In addition to it, we have legislature on human rights. According to it, no person shall be discriminated because of his or her gender, sexual orientation, and religion. New Zealand also has special quotas thanks to which you won’t be discriminated in any way possible when applying for job.  

Please, list five basic features of modern women from New Zealand. 

– We are strong, we can fight for our rights. We have clear mind and express our thoughts for others to understand us easily. We are caring persons, women of New Zealand always become good mothers. In addition, our women are physically and mentally beautiful. And, finally, we are good teachers and guide other women for them to achieve what they want. 

Viktoria Yezhova, Nikolay Gavrilov, Agata Korovina, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community

Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov