Te Mahere Whai Mahi Wāhine Women’s Employment Action Plan builds on existing supports for women’s employment and is part of wider work that supports women in the economy and in society.

Manatū Wāhine developed Te Mahere Whai Mahi Wāhine Women’s Employment Action Plan as part of the all-of-government Employment Strategy. 

Women’s increased labour market participation has long been a driver of economic growth in New Zealand. Women’s participation in the labour force has increased from 54.3% in 1991 to 67.4% in December 2023

By closing the gap in employment rates between men and women, New Zealand’s gross domestic product (GDP) would boost by an estimated 10%.

However, women are still facing critical employment issues in the labour market in Aotearoa New Zealand, as women: 

  • interact differently with the labour market to men, which can put women at an economic disadvantage 
  • continue to face greater barriers to accessing employment gains in the workplace
  • earn less than men, even when they have the same qualifications
  • continue to experience a gender pay gap, and an ethnic-gender pay gap for Māori and Pacific women
  • are more likely to be concentrated in lower skilled, lower paid, and/or part-time or casual work, often seeking more working hours or working non-standard hours
  • are involved in insecure or limited employment conditions, making them more vulnerable to job losses
  • are more likely than men to have experienced discrimination, harassment, or bullying at work
  • undertake a disproportionate share of caring and family responsibilities, which reduces their capacity to adapt to labour market requirements and changes (this is particularly the case for wāhine Māori and Pacific women)
  • will be affected by increasing digitalisation and automation. There may be a decline in certain job sectors that are particularly vulnerable to automation (such as retail trade). Some new emerging ‘job clusters’ are in predominantly male-dominated STEM fields
  • are employed in occupations more likely to be affected by climate change.

The importance of addressing many of these areas led to the need to develop Te Mahere Whai Mahi Wāhine Women’s Employment Action Plan.