Gender Policy From the Internet Party’s Gender Spokesperson
Although the Internet Party of New Zealand did not manage to gain any seats in the 20 November 2014 elections they did have an impact on the political climate. Their range of policies covered subjects from the digital economy to dolphins. However some policies did not make it in time. One that was very much in the public attention was gender politics as New Zealand has a high rate of gender based abuse and child abuse. Also a high profile case of a foreign embassy employee was falsely given diplomatic immunity to escape charges over a serious sex offence.
Although the policy statement has been written for the New Zealand situation it embraces principles that are applicable to many other countries and cultures. It realizes that gender rights is not a zero sum game and that the oppression of one group harms all. It also recognizes that gender is not a binary issue but a spectrum and one with more than one axis.
Gender politics is something Pirate Parties have not, with some notable exceptions, had a good record in.
The Gender Policy of the Internet Party of New Zealand
As the first country to grant women the vote, New Zealand has a long way to go until we have genuine equality across all genders. The Internet Party believes that everyone, regardless of gender, should have the same access, rights, and privileges in daily life. This means that everyone should have the capacity to work and support themselves, live free from violence, have control over their body, and take on an equal share of unpaid labour. Greater equality is also needed when it comes to power and influence within New Zealand. The global gender gap index places New Zealand at number seven internationally and we can do much better. [Editor’s note: in the 2014 global gender gap index New Zealand has slipped to thirteenth place.] As a party we will address the current manifestations of gender inequality (e.g., gender pay gap) and create the conditions that promote an equal and just society for all, regardless of gender.
The Internet Party will:
● Work to eradicate all forms of gender-based violence including sexual violence, intimate partner violence(PDF), family violence, online and offline harassment and men’s violence against boys/men.
● Address current inequalities in the workforce, including the gender pay gap.
● Increase opportunity and capacity for leadership, public participation, and involvement in social decision making for all, regardless of gender.
● Increase paid parental leave (that mothers, fathers and other caregivers have access to) and increase government subsidised childcare.
Further Details “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman [or man]”.1 This powerful statement refers to the notion that sex and gender are different things. Sex refers to the biological characteristics that distinguish one as boy or girl and gender denotes the molding of boys and girls into masculine or feminine beings. Research has long indicated that gender inequality exists primarily due to the idea that there are two separate and vastly different ‘genders’. This dichotomous approach to gender needs immediate reworking to allow for diversity of identity formations. A fluid approach also captures those who identify as transgender, intersex, and the non-gender conforming. The Internet Party will introduce primary prevention strategies that will address all forms of gender inequality and target specific areas of gender inequality concern in New Zealand.
1. Gender equality education:
Will be incorporated into New Zealand educational curricula from primary school to dismantle rigid gender binaries that promote gender inequality. The aim is to give boys and girls the opportunity to take on diverse roles and become powered to be themselves rather than fitting into predefined categories and expectations. A main focus will be on debunking polarised forms of masculinities and femininities and teaching ethical forms of sexual and relational practices towards all, no matter what their gender or sexual orientation. 1 The Second Sex, de Beauvoir, 1953 (1953). The Second Sex. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books.
2. Media literacy programmes:
Will be introduced in schools, public libraries and community centres. The current media saturated environment increasingly depicts extremely narrow definitions of appropriate womanhood and manhood, including highly sexualised and gendered displays. Girls and boys need the tools, from an early age, to critically dismantle stereotypical, violent, and unrealistic media content.
3. Gender-based violence:
The term gender-based violence denotes all forms of physical and non-physical violence perpetrated against women and girls, such as: “physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering… including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” In New Zealand, 20% of women will be physically abused by a male partner and one in five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. On average 14 women, six men and 10 children are killed by a member of their family every year and 84% of those arrested for domestic violence are men; 16% are women. It is typically girls/women who experience this sort of violation but 16% of males will also experience sexual abuse before the age of 18 (typically from a family member). Although the abuse of men by other men is more common, a small percentage of male survivors have been offended against by a woman. It is now well documented that men’s violence against other men is one of the biggest killers and producers of harm for boys/men. The eradication of violent masculinity thus not only requires men’s active involvement, but will also benefit them directly. The Internet Party believes that gender-based violence is a major public health concern, a violation of human rights and comes at an extremely high costly to New Zealand society. We know that gender-based violence is predictable and preventable and the Internet Party will work directly towards ending gender-based violence through well-documented primary, secondary and tertiary prevention strategies.
Primary prevention of gender-based violence: Stopping violence before it has occurred. Preventing gender-based violence requires changing enduring norms and beliefs about the nature of gender and men’s and women’s roles within society. This prevention happens at societal level and is targeted at groups that are at most risk of becoming perpetrators or victims. To do this we will:
● Introduce gender equality education (see above) and media literacy programmes (see above) that directly address ethical sexual relating among men and women. We must fiercely debunk the toxic modes of aggressive masculinity that victimises both women and men in our society. Review/modification of sexual health curricula in schools to cover safe/healthy relationships for both boys and girls.
● Review/modification of sexual health curricula in schools to cover safe/healthy relationships.
● Roll out a national media campaign targeting sexual violence and “rape culture” (TV, billboards, Internet, social media), specifically focusing on challenging dominant forms of aggressive, control-oriented, sexually opportunistic and ‘macho’ masculinity. New forms of gender-based violence such as online sexual harassment and (mass) ‘trolling’ will be also be specifically targeted.
Secondary prevention of gender-based violence: Immediate response after violence has occurred that encompasses both victim and perpetrator interventions:
● Support services working with sexual abuse, sexual assault and family violence (e.g., Rape Crisis, Women’s Refuge) will receive increased, continued and sustained financial support.
● Emergency housing will be made accessible to all who need to escape an abusive situation.
● The legal procedure for dealing with rape and sexual assault will be reviewed and modified to further incorporate a gender and power perspective.
● We will reinstate the ceased law commission work on alternative trial processes in NZ.
● The legal procedure for dealing with family violence will be modified to focus directly on protecting victims rather than implementing a therapeutic or reconciliation approach when women and children are in danger.
● Recent legal aid cuts will be reversed.
● Early intervention and modification of men’s violent behaviour through counselling or other programmes will be further increased.
Tertiary prevention of gender-based violence: Long-term response after violence has occurred:
● Reduce long-term adverse effects on victims and survivors by providing continued support and counselling.
● Review and reversal of the 2010 ACC cuts to sexual abuse survivors.
● Increase men’s stopping violence programmes.
● Sex offender treatment and monitoring.
● Strengthening ways in which perpetrators are held accountable.
● Enforcing protection and safety orders.
4. Public participation and workforce:
Although women in New Zealand make up more than 50% of the population and workforce, they are still poorly represented in high-paying, CEO, public, political and governance positions. Women on average in earn 10 cents less than men, per dollar, for doing the same work.
Gender pay gap: The Internet Party will re-establish the Pay and Employment Equity Unit that was discontinued in 2009 to address the continued gender pay gap. The recommendations of the Pay and Employment Equity Unit will be implemented. Pay discrimination based on gender will be monitored and heavily penalised as it is a human rights violation.
Leadership, power and influence: It is a sad truism that (PDF) “the proportion of women in leadership positions, women’s development and advancement has stalled and is sliding backwards”.
Three key factors that create barriers to women’s career progression and taking on leadership roles include: sexist attitudes (unconscious bias based on gender stereotypes), taking career breaks (the requirement for women to be main caregivers) and accessing low status but flexible work (where women trade down their skills to gain flexibility). The Internet Party will address these issues by implementing the following strategies:
● Gender balance in leadership needs to be seen as a strategic agenda at all levels of governance and business practice.
● Two factors(PDF)are crucial in increasing women in leadership positions: CEO and executive involvement to the objective of women’s advancement and equal representation and strategic, systemic, organisational shifts in mind-set and behaviour, involving HR and management.
● Flexible working conditions need to be integrated into the workforce and normalised regardless of gender or family/caregiver responsibilities.
● Modular rather than linear career development(PDF) should be adopted by employers for all employees, regardless of gender.
● Companies need to think about following a ‘career-life fit’ structure where there is a lattice approach to career pathways, allowing lateral, diagonal and planned descents (based on performance rather than tenure), rather than that traditional linear approach.
● Equal Employment Opportunity must be made mandatory in the private sector by adding the ‘good employer’ requirement in the employment relations amendment bill (this was previously rejected by government).
● A target of 50/50 gender split will be set for board members, government CEOs and judges, will be set for 2020, and a strategic plan developed to achieve this.
● A target of 50% women judges by 2020.
● Women’s increased participation in Information and Communication technology will be specifically targeted by the Internet Party when it comes to education, leadership and governance.
5. Paid parental leave and childcare
● Extended from 12 weeks to 52 weeks and can be used till the child is two years old.
● Parental leave payments will match the average male income.
● At least 12 weeks of this leave must be used by the partner who did not give birth to the child (or a family member/friend/other partner).
● Adoptive parents will have the same access to leave up to the first two years of the child’s life.
● Parents who share the leave equally will be granted extra benefits (increased weekly payment).
● An increase in government subsidised child-care so that all women (irrespective of income) have the opportunity to return to paid work after childbirth.
● An increase in Early Childhood Education to 25 hours per week.
6. Adoption: Non-heterosexual couple will have the same rights as heterosexual couples when it comes to adoption.
7. Health and well-being
● Introduce free contraception.
● Free sexual health screening for all.
● Improve family planning services and sexual health services nation-wide.
● Decriminalise abortion (making elective termination legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy).
● Improve mental health services for women, girls and LGBTI individuals.
8. Welfare reform: An extensive review and modification of the welfare system as it affects women and children is required.
9. Child support: Review of changes to child support due to take place on 1 April 2015.
● Elevate the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to cabinet level and rename it the Ministry of Gender Equality, making sure it has increased, adequate and sustained funding.
● Set a goal of 50% women MPs by for 2020 (currently it stands at 34%)
● Ban advertising during children’s programming.
● Work to eradicate advertising that promotes gender stereotyping.
● Reduce the depiction of violence and misogyny on TV and in advertising.
The Internet Party is aware that different groups of women face different issues. The specific needs of lesbian, disabled, Maori, Pasifika, immigrant and refugee women as related to our core policies will also be addressed using an intersectional perspective.
NB: The Internet Party also supports the 100 points outlined in Women’s Election Agenda Aotearoa 2014.
1 The Second Sex, de Beauvoir, 1953 (1953). The Second Sex. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books.
This policy statement was draughted by Dr. Panteá Farvid.It is based discussions in the party’s Loomio based policy incubator.
Dr Panteá (Pani) Farvid is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. Her work includes examining the intersection of gender, sexuality, power, culture and identity. She has worked on large projects examining the social construction of heterosexual casual sex and contemporary heterosexualities. Drawing on critical and feminist
approaches to the study of sex, sexuality, gender, heterosexuality, gender relations, and masculine/feminine identities, she has an analytic interest in both the personal narratives of individuals, as well as the critical analysis of popular culture/media representations related to these.
Currently, Panteá is working on projects examining the sex industry in New Zealand (e.g., media representations of prostitution, men who buy sex) and ‘cyber intimacies’ (e.g., *Tinder*, “sugar dating” websites). She is also working in collaboration with Auckland City Public Libraries to develop a “Teen Empowerment Programme” for New Zealand youth that promotes critical engagement with mass media and daily life. She has supervised numerous student projects examining topics such as *Fifty Shades of Grey*, Teen girls’ engagement with *Tumblr*, Teen girls’ daily engagement with mass
media, heterosexual “infidelity”, and men’s and women’s experiences of online dating.
Alongside her academic position, Panteá is strongly dedicated to being involved within the community, both politically and as an ambassador for social justice and equality. She was a political candidate, gender spokesperson, and gender policy lead for one of the Internet Party
(contesting the 2014 New Zealand election). Taking on the role of “critic and conscious” she is also a frequent media commentator in New Zealand when it comes to issues related to gender, power and sexuality.
Featured image: CC BY-SA Amnesty International Finland
The bio of Dr. Farvid has been updated