Kick the door in, Clark tells women

A Nepalese woman with a placard that says "We are advancing together and breaking the silence"...
A Nepalese woman with a placard that says "We are advancing together and breaking the silence" takes part in a rally marking International Women' Day in Kathmandu. Photo: Reuters
In Spain, women bang pots and pans during a protest at the start of a nationwide feminist strike...
In Spain, women bang pots and pans during a protest at the start of a nationwide feminist strike on International Women's Day at Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid.
In Mexico, a factory worker takes part in a self-defence class as part of a police programme to...
In Mexico, a factory worker takes part in a self-defence class as part of a police programme to mark International Women's Day. Photo: Reuters
Acid attack survivors pose during a fashion show to mark International Women's Day in Thane on...
Acid attack survivors pose during a fashion show to mark International Women's Day in Thane on the outskirts of Mumbai in India. Photo: Reuters

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark says women don't just need to lean in to opportunities - they need to kick the door in and take them.

Speaking at an International Women's Day breakfast in Wellington this morning, Clark said things had changed for the better since she was first elected in 1981, when there were only four women in Parliament.

"You name it, women have done it. Not yet regularly enough, but we have shown that you can crash through the glass ceilings in New Zealand."

Clark went on to become head of the United Nations' Development Programme for eight years and ran for the UN's top job of Secretary General, but was unsuccessful.

When asked by National Council of Women chief executive Dr Gill Greer, Clark said her rural background had helped make her resilient and women had to be resilient and be prepared to cope with losing if they wanted to take a shot at success.

She had enjoyed wins and suffered losses during her time in Parliament and that was life, Clark said.

"I've actually had a very good life. I don't sit around looking back thinking 'what if'."

There was a perception people didn't like tough women, but "you've got to be tough, you've got to be resilient to get out there and jostle your way in", Clark said.

"Nobody, women or men, should expect anyone to roll out the red carpet for them and open the door, you must roll out your own carpet and kick the door in if you really want something."

Giving a nod to the Me Too movement, Clark said globally it had claimed some "spectacular scalps".

"Women are finally saying they've had enough. I think it's positive because women often haven't complained, they've put up with it and they're not going to put up with it any more."

Clark also mentioned Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's pregnancy, saying Ardern was simply doing what women did all over the country: balancing work and motherhood.

She wanted to see that balance made easier for women at all income levels.

"I see a lot of stress on young family women now."

Clark was this morning made a lifetime member of women's empowerment organisation Zonta, which hosted the breakfast, on her father's 96th birthday.

WORLD MARKS WOMEN'S DAY

British boxer and Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams holds a Barbie doll made in her likeness to...
British boxer and Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams holds a Barbie doll made in her likeness to mark International Women's Day. Photo: Mattel via Reuters

A boxing Barbie doll, "suffragette" flashmob and Wikipedia edit-a-thon are among a host of quirky initiatives aimed at highlighting gender inequalities and overturning stereotypes on International Women's Day today.

In a year which has seen the birth of the #MeToo movement on sexual harassment and abuse, women around the world have been pushing for more rights and visibility.

In Paris, an edit-a-thon is inviting people to create, edit or translate Wikipedia pages about women who have played a key role or who still contribute in the fields of education, science, culture and communication.

Only 17% of biographies published on Wikipedia are about women, according to the United Nations' cultural agency UNESCO, which is organising the event.

Toy manufacturers are also getting in on the act.

A Barbie doll in the likeness of British Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams, complete with "boxing gloves to shatter any glass ceiling", has been unveiled to mark International Women's Day.

Toymaker Mattel, whose Barbie dolls have in the past drawn criticism for promoting harmful stereotypes, said it hoped the Adams doll would inspire girls to achieve greatness.

Other women role models getting the Barbie treatment include US Olympic snowboarding star Chloe Kim.

Also challenging stereotypes is Little Miss Inventor, a new character in the Mr Men and Little Miss children's book series, who makes her debut on Thursday.

Little Miss Inventor, a female engineer who sports a spanner and pencils in her hair, aims to provide a positive role model and challenge stereotypes about STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - where women are often underrepresented.

A child by some Venus symbols at an event  in Mexico where UN women and rights groups and rights...
A child by some Venus symbols at an event in Mexico where UN women and rights groups and rights groups launched a campaign against violence towards women. Photo: Reuters

Around the world, over 60 stock exchanges - up from 43 last year - will host bell ceremonies to raise awareness of the key role the private sector can play in advancing gender equality.

In Britain, which is celebrating 100 years since women won the right to vote, a flashmob will descend on London's St Paul's Cathedral to honour suffragettes including Emmeline Pankhurst who were pivotal in getting women the vote.

They will perform a choral work called the Pankhurst Anthem, written by the suffragette's great-granddaughter Helen Pankhurst and composed by Lucy Pankhurst, who is also related.

But despite the celebrations and positive role models, a study released on Wednesday by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development shows women in every country still do far more unpaid work, like childcare and chores, than men.

France to fine firms if gender gap not erased

French companies will have three years to erase their gender pay gaps or face possible fines under plans presented by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe to unions and employers on Wednesday.

Men are on average paid 9% more than women in France even though the law has required equal pay for the same work for the past 45 years, the government said.

Companies with more than 50 employees will be required to install special software hooked up directly to their payroll systems to monitor unjustified pay gaps under the plans. The aim was to roll out the software in companies with more than 250 employees next year and in 2020 for firms with between 50 and 249 workers.

- NZ Herald and Reuters 

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