Hundreds of documents briefing new Government ministers on key policies have been released. Herald journalists have been analysing the Briefings to Incoming Ministers (Bims). Here we look at the Ministry for Women.

Using the paid parental leave extension to encourage men to take time off to care for their child is one of the suggestions the Government has received to improve the lives of Kiwi women.

Paid parental leave will increase from 18 weeks to 22 starting in July next year and 26 weeks leave by July 2020.

The suggestion was outlined in the briefing to incoming ministers document for the Ministry for Women, now headed by Green MP Julie Anne Genter.


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Briefings to incoming ministers: The highlights

The ministry's aim is to get better results for New Zealand women and girls. Its priorities are to value women's contribution to the labour market, reduce the gender pay gap, improve the lives of women on low incomes, increase safety and representation in leadership.

Women are participating in the labour market at greater rates than ever before - 65 per cent in 2017 compared to 55 per cent in 1995, the document stated. More women than men graduate with a bachelor degree or higher qualification each year.

Despite these gains, on average women continue to be paid less than men. The gender pay gap is currently 9.4 per cent, the document stated.

While factors like working in lower-paid industries and part-time work contribute to women being paid less than men, the ministry's recent research shows that 80 per cent of the gap can be attributed to hard-to-measure factors, including bias and discrimination.

Currently, women make up 60 per cent of minimum wage employees and head 84 per cent of sole-parent households which are over-represented in measures of low income and material hardship.

Developing pay equity for female-dominated industries and gender pay principles were some of the actions suggested in the BIM to reduce the pay gap. It also stated legislative options could be considered.

One in four New Zealand women experience sexual violence and one in four women experience violence from an intimate partner over their lifetime.


Māori women are twice as likely as other women to experience this violence.
Encouraging employers to implement family violence workplaces policies to support employees who are victims of domestic violence as well as supporting approaches to protect young women and girls from online bullying and sexual violence were included in the suggestions to the new minister.

The document also suggested an increasing need for culturally appropriate responses such as a kaupapa Māori service and to look at culturally-based forms of violence.