Minister for Women Jan Tinetti gets to work

Posted: July 20, 2021Categories: ,

Minister for Women Jan Tinetti gets to work

Te Wāhi Wāhine o Tāmaki Makaurau/ Auckland Women’s Centre met with Minister for Women Jan Tinetti in May, and came away very impressed. It was clear Jan understands why a gendered analysis of family and sexual violence is important, and during the meeting, she listened to our concerns intently.

Jan is Pākehā, a breast cancer survivor, and an advocate of te reo. Prior to entering Parliament in 2017, she was the principal of a decile 1 school in Tauranga, and she says the whole idea of social justice and equity is “part of who I am”. As well as holding the portfolio for Women, she is also Minister of Internal Affairs and Associate Minister of Education (Learning Support). In all three areas, she’s working to progress gender equity: in Internal Affairs, she’s progressing a bill allowing self-identification of gender on birth certificates, and in Education, she’s promising more oversight of compulsory sexual consent education.

We look forward to seeing what Jan can achieve in this term in government – pleasingly, Minister Tinetti sits in Cabinet, unlike her predecessor Julie-Anne Genter. We hope her influence will help ensure Cabinet has an intersectional gender lens, and the National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence is based on the gendered analysis necessary to tackle the crisis effectively.

A glimmer of hope for work-life balance

There’s a $900,000 earnings gap between men and women over a lifetime, and this will be wider for wāhine Māori and Pacific women. Some of this gap occurs because women still undertake most of the child-rearing and housework. The Ministry of Women knows three major factors that would help improve gender equity at home and work: more flexible work hours, incentivising men to take paid parental leave, and increasing subsidies for childcare, as reported by Michelle Duff (Stuff).

What’s more, Workplace Relations & Safety Minister Michael Wood says the Government may look at partner-specific parental leave this term, and Jan Tinetti has signalled that improved access to childcare will be in the national women’s employment action plan, along with training and support for women in business and entrepreneurship. The plan, currently in development, is driven by the desire to avoid a repeat of last year’s detrimental Covid-19 effect on women’s employment.

Diversity across the Board(s)

What makes a good board? Jan Tinetti is blunt: “More diverse boards make better decisions.” While collectively Government-appointed boards and committees have reached gender equity (though ACC, Corrections, Transport and others are lagging behind) the decision-making bodies are still overwhelmingly Pākehā – which means that decisions are being made in mostly monocultural vacuums rather than being fully informed. Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo is calling for ethnicity targets for state sector boards: “moving women of colour up the ladder” will ensure better decision-making for everyone.