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Scrap Women's Affairs Ministry, says Roy

Published: 9:26AM Friday November 19, 2010 Source: ONE News

The Ministry of Women's Affairs is "sexist" and "historic" and should be scrapped, Act MP Heather Roy says.

Roy said with the Ministry changing hands from MP Pansy Wong to Georgina Te Heuheu, who herself called the Ministry a "sexist relic" in 2003, it would be a good time to get rid of it.

Roy said she agreed with Te Heuheu's 2003 comments and said that having a Ministry that advantages one group disadvantages another.

"This is a good time to look at what it actually does. Does it provide anything for women? If not, let's disband it," Roy said on TV ONE's Breakfast show this morning.

The Ministry was established in 1984 and is the smallest core government agency with fewer than 40 staff.

Te Heuheu said despite her 2003 comments, she did not want to see the Ministry scrapped.

"It may have been a relic back then in 2003 when (Labour) was in government, but it's certainly not a relic now - it's an action-packed ministry."

But Roy says the Ministry's work would be better carried out by other departments.

"Personally I think that having a separate Ministry because women can't do very well on their own is a bit insulting to women. Why don't we have a Ministry of Men's Affairs to help them with some of the issues that they have?

"Some of the things that the Ministry did in its early days have actually helped, but do we still need it today? I think we need to ask ourselves that question."

She said the $5 million a year spent on the Ministry would be better spent targeting specific problems that women had.

"That would be better placed with government ministries. Each government department should take responsibility for ensuring gender equality.

"But when you have a separate body or organisation that does that for you, it actually says 'don't worry about that, Ministry of Women's affairs will do that for you' whereas they're the ones that know their own workplace. They're the ones who should be fulfilling that function."

She said the Ministry's research activities could be diverted to the Ministry of Social Development, and doing that would help avoid replication.

A recent Human Rights Commission report showed women's workforce participation rates were sliding backward.

Roy said that in itself shows the Ministry is not making much progress.

The report identified a 15.4% gender pay gap in the public service, which is greater than the total labour force gender pay gap of 13%.

What do you think? Is there a place for the Ministry of Women's Affairs? Have your say on the messageboard below.

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  • woodstock said on 2010-11-19 @ 16:36 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I strongly feel this Ministry should be closed down. It is sexist and discriminatory, and does nothing to foster a nation of inclusion. The Ministry is self serving, and any 'research' it produces is self serving. We could fund 5000 cataract operations with the money it takes to run that office. Come on National, and follow ACT's lead on this one.