Blue Mountain College principal Lindy Cavanagh-Monaghan spoke about inspiring female role models at an International Women’s Day dinner in Gore last week.
The dinner was hosted by Soroptimist International of Gore at Food Affair at the Gore Racecourse.
International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8.
The theme of this year’s Women’s Day was “break the bias”.
Mrs Cavanagh-Monaghan began her talk by discussing the pay inequity between men and women in New Zealand.
“For a while the pay gap was trending downwards quite nicely.
“It had gone from a 14.3% gap in 2014 and it was moving down in 2020 to 9.9%.”
However, in 2021 the influence of Covid-19 helped push the figure up to 10.8%.
“That is quite a scary statistic.”
In 2021 Maori and Pasifika women earned about 25% less than a Pakeha man.
An interesting way to view the inequity was to consider how many months of the year women were paid in comparison to men.
“If you were a Pasifika woman you would have been working for free from September 22 till the end of the year .. .if you were wahine Maori you would have been working for nothing from October 3 … if you were an Asian woman you would have been working for nothing from October 23 and if you were a Pakeha woman from November 15.”
Many women worked in industries such as hospitality and caregiving where Covid-19 had more effect with loss of jobs and reduced hours, Mrs Cavanagh-Monaghan said.
“Men are coming out of a difficult situation financially better off than women.”
On a more positive note the Minister of Women’s Affairs Jan Tinetti, wanted to reduce the pay gap, she said.
“She is putting a national action plan together for women and that will be launched this month.”
Reducing the gap was about breaking the bias, Mrs Cavanagh-Monaghan said.
American feminist Gloria Steinem had some wisdom about women’s rights.
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”
Celebrating the success of women was also important on Women’s Day, she said.
Dame Silvia Cartwright, Tokomairiro whanau ora navigator Tia Potae and health advocate Beverley Lawton were three women who featured in New Zealand’s Women of Influence Awards recently and were examples of women whose success should be celebrated more widely.
However, many of the pupils she had taught were making their mark in the world.
“Among ex-pupils of mine are people who are civil engineers, diplomats, surgeons, judges, Silver Ferns, humanitarians working overseas to help others, musicians, entrepreneurs, TV presenters, plumbers, electricians, chefs, farmers, journalists and that’s just the girls.”
For these women there had been no “glass ceiling or if there was one they’d broken through it and are shooting for the stars which is amazing”.
Soroptimist International of Gore president Debbie Dickson said today’s woman “wears many hats”.
International Women’s Day acknowledged the economic, political and social achievements of women in the past, present and future, Ms Dickson said.
Ms Dickson challenged the women at the dinner to imagine a gender-equal world.
“A world free of bias, stereotypes, discrimination [and] a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive.
“A world where difference is valued and celebrated.”