Issue date
17 May 2021

Manatū Wāhine the Ministry for Women has begun work to develop a Women’s Employment Action Plan as part of the Employment Strategy. This will align with the women’s perspectives being incorporated into the other six employment action plans (Māori, Pacific, disabled, youth, older workers, and refugees, recent migrants and ethnic communities).  Women’s employment has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the impact of the pandemic has been much worse for women who are already facing inequities. 

Women were already more likely to be underemployed, earn less per hour, and do more unpaid work.  Female-dominated industries are often lower paid, and women are more likely to take breaks from the workforce to raise children.  Altogether this adds up to a huge difference in earnings and wealth between women and men.  The Ministry for Women estimates women earn nearly $900,000 less over a lifetime. 

This requires a tailored-response to address the immediate short-term challenges and to build back better so that women are less vulnerable to labour market shocks and more likely to fulfil their potential.  An Employment Action Plan will identify actions to support women to have choices and live rewarding lives, and to address gender roles and stereotypes that limit what women do with their lives.  Improving employment support for women is also an important way to improve wellbeing for many children.

The long-term aim of this work is to improve women’s resilience in the face of future social and economic shocks, which in turn will improve the resilience of families and communities.

Background on the Employment Strategy and the specific Employment Action Plans can be found here.

Read the background Cabinet paper here.