The New Zealand labour market is still highly segregated. Men and women are possibly doing about the same amount of work but most of men's work is paid, where women do a lot of unpaid work. Māori and Pacific women, in particular, are not seeing the gains other people are making. For those reasons, women have a different labour market experience that requires response to life changes such as having children and caring for wider family/whānau.
Women as a workforce are currently under-employed, unemployed or under-utilised at a higher rate than men. One in three employed women work part-time, and of those part-time working women, one in five is under-employed. Barriers to fully ulitising women’s skills include the need for flexible work, part-time work, and managing childcare demands.
Over 95 percent of businesses in New Zealand are small to medium enterprises i.e. with fewer than 50 employees (SMEs). Providing ‘family-friendly’ work opportunities can be a challenge. However, for SMEs to be sustainable and grow they need to attract and retain talented staff, who often need family-friendly work environments.
Provisions that enable parents to combine work and care are critical for women to achieve greater economic independence and essential for any strategy aimed at improving productivity and economic growth. Paid parental leave, affordable quality childcare, flexible working conditions (for men and women), and a tax-transfer system that ensures work is worthwhile are key drivers of labour market participation for women.
The Ministry’s work in this area includes:
- working with key business leaders to produce resources to support SME business owners provide family-friendly work environments
- monitoring key indicators of women’s pattern of work (both paid and unpaid)
- contributing to the development of labour, education, social welfare policies that enable women to increase their skills across the full range of occupations and to combine work and care
Many women in leadership roles are in the community and voluntary sectors who are not always recognised. For example, women do 75 percent of childcare in the home and 60 percent of all volunteered hours. This contribution is important but is not widely understood, recognised or acknowledged. We want to do more in this areas so that regardless of ability, skills and experience, every women has a strong inclusive place in society.