Issue date
8 March 2023

Tēnā koutou katoa 

Today I am wishing all women and girls across Aotearoa New Zealand a happy International Women’s Day. Today is a day to celebrate the social, economic and cultural achievements of women and girls across Aotearoa New Zealand and the world.  

The 2023 International Women’s Day theme, Embrace Equity, gives us a broader opportunity for reflection. As a country, we have a proud record of gender equality and equity and we have made progress in areas such as leadership, pay equity, improved employment opportunities, and continuing to close the gender pay gap.  

However, there is more work to be done for all women particularly to achieve equity for wāhine Māori and Pacific women. We must also continue to champion gender equality and women’s empowerment both domestically and internationally for young and older women, disabled women, women who are former refugees and recent migrants, and LGBTQIA+. 

Today, my thoughts are particularly with those impacted by the recent Auckland flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle. We know that many women are not only balancing the needs of their whānau, their children or others they care for — they are also supporting the communities around them. We take the time to acknowledge your mahi, strength, and resilience. 

2023 is also a special year for wāhine in Aotearoa, as this year we are commemorating 130 years since the Electoral Act was passed on 19 September 1893, enshrining in law the right of women to vote. Today we also reflect on the trailblazing suffragists and their achievements and look forward to further celebrations later in the year.  

For this year’s International Women’s Day, I am attending the 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Commission on the Status of Women is the global policy-making body dedicated to gender equality and the advancement of women.  

New York may be many thousands of miles from home, but here we are focused on similar issues of equity and equality, safety, economic independence, and leadership pathways for women and girls.   

As a representative of the Minister for Women and the New Zealand Government at CSW67, it’s my role to ensure that our voice and our valued insights are shared on the world stage, so that we may learn from one another on how to best progress gender equality to improve the lives of women and girls in Aotearoa New Zealand.  

The CSW67 theme is about innovation and technological change and using this to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.  

Technological innovation has moved us forward, but it also brings new challenges. There is a gender digital divide between men's and women's ability to access and use digital technologies and contribute to, and benefit from its development.  

Something that is great to see is the new generation of innovative women working in the tech space to close this digital divide. One such innovator is Norie Ape, who is joining us at CSW as our NGO (non-government organisation) representative. I am so pleased to have Norie on board to support the CSW67 delegation and bring her knowledge, passion, and commitment to digital innovation into these key conversations.  

CSW67 is continuing for another week, but today, I would like to personally thank our partners who are actively working to improve outcomes for women and girls. You’re all doing incredibly important mahi.  

International Women’s Day is an important day for acknowledging all the incredible contributions, skills, talents, and achievements of women and girls in Aotearoa New Zealand. I join the many others in also recognising all that you do every day so women and girls have every opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential. 

As always, thank you for your support of women and girls in Aotearoa and all that you do every day.

Noho ora mai

Kellie Coombes

Kellie Coombes sitting at New Zealand's United Nations seat in New York

Kellie Coombes sitting at New Zealand's United Nations seat in New York, USA, at the 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.