New Zealand has been named one of the world's most gender-equal countries - but the new Minister for Women says progress has stalled and the Government needs to take a greater lead.

The World Economic Forum releases its Global Gender Gap Report 2017 today, which uses an index to rank 144 countries on where women are more likely to be able to participate fully in political and economic life and enjoy the most equal access to education and healthcare.

New Zealand was estimated to have closed 79 per cent of its overall gender gap - placing it 9th in the world, just ahead of the Philippines, and behind Ireland in 8th.

Iceland was top followed by Norway, Finland, Rwanda, Sweden, Nicaragua, and Slovenia.


New Zealand is the most gender-equal country in the East Asia Pacific region, and since the reports started in 2006 has closed its gap by four percentage points.

Other findings in the report include that 56 per cent of work New Zealand women do is unpaid, compared with 29 per cent of men's work, and mean monthly earnings of women are 70 per cent that of men.

Globally, the report found a decade of slow progress on closing the gender gap came to a halt, with the gap widening slightly for the first time.

The report said that at current progress the global gender gap will take 100 years to close, with the workplace gender gap taking 217 years.

The World Economic Forum said most of the data used in its gender-gap index was from organisations including the International Labour Organisation, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Health Organisation.

Green MP and Women's Minister Julie Anne Genter said the previous Government hadn't done nearly enough to help close the gender gap.

"Globally we are in a fairly good position ... but we haven't made any progress in the last year and we have been higher in the past."

The Greens' confidence and supply agreement with the Labour Party includes agreement to eliminate the gender pay gap within the core public sector, and work to set the wider public and private sectors on the same pathway.


A private member's bill by Green MP Jan Logie was narrowly voted down in May this year, with Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First all in favour. It would have given employees access to data showing the pay and gender of other people doing the same kind of work.

Genter said she would be investigating options to force companies to disclose pay gap information.

"That is something that has recently happened in the United Kingdom and Australia. We will be looking closely at the experience in those two countries.

"But obviously to progress any legislative changes regarding disclosure of the pay gap in the private sector I would want the support of business in that and would need to win the support of our partners in Government as well. And that is something I intend to do my best on.

"It is very normal for legislation to be consulted on in the early stages and I intend to take an inclusive and effective approach."

Genter and Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway announced yesterday that the Government would halt pay-equity legislation introduced under the National Party Government, with Genter saying it was designed to put barriers in front of women wanting to make a claim.