Violence not addressed
New Zealand may be ranked the best place in the world to be a working woman, but it has failed in combating high levels of violence against women and girls, said Dr Gill Greer at a Zonta Club of Mana presentation earlier this month.
Dr Greer, who was director general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation for five years in London, was the keynote speaker at a International Women’s Day breakfast at Plimmerton Boating Club on March 10.
Dr Greer talked about the position of women and girls in the Pacific, Asia and Africa and said the theme of this year’s meeting for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women is the elimination and prevention of violence against women and girls.
She gave instances and horrific figures of violence against women.
Statistics spoke to an unrelenting global pandemic of violence against females, she said, and New Zealand was far from untouched.
‘‘Issues related to the situation of many Maori, Pacific and disabled women, or those who are new migrants or refugees, continue to receive little if any attention in reports.’’
As stated in the 2013 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development, Dr Greer said gender equality was not just a core development objective in its own right, but smart economics.
When women have more time, bet- ter health and education they are more likely to be in paid employment, and will reinvest 90 per cent of their earnings back into their families and communities, compared with men’s 30-40 per cent.
This lifted themselves and their families out of poverty and contributed to a significant increase in gross domestic product.
Charting positive progress, Dr Greer said women now represent 40 per cent of the world’s agricultural labour force and make up more than half the world’s university students.
Increasingly, in some countries such as India, they have a greater decision making role at the local level.
Gender gaps in education have closed in many countries, and in poor countries women live, on average, 20 years longer than they did in 1960, she said.
World Bank evidence shows countries with higher gender equality have lower poverty levels and that there is a strong correlation between women’s economic empowerment and economic growth.
Dr Greer is now back in New Zealand as the new chief executive of VSA New Zealand.
Upcoming events for the Zonta Club of Mana include a regional forum and dinner with Annah Stretton on April 6, an antiques roadshow, and quiz night. The next club night is April 2. Newcomers are welcome. All enquires to Helen Schafer, 0276 005 794 or 465 0013.
Visiting: Dr Gill Greer with Mana Zonta Club member Dr Judy Whitcombe.