Women Deliver 2019 – Vancouver, Canada | NZ Parliament

Women Deliver 2019 – Vancouver, Canada | NZ Parliament


Recently I was incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Vancouver to attend the Women Deliver Conference. This is a conference that was attended by approximately 9,000 people from something like 180 countries around the world. I’d surveyed women from around the world about what issues they wanted to discuss. There was sexual and reproductive health rights, climate change, data sharing, indigenous women’s experience. It was attended by Ministers, members of Parliament, Government agencies from many countries. I have to say it was great that there was a good New Zealand contingent there. Because the conference programme was so wide and varied, there weren’t too many times we were sitting in the same session, which, actually, is one of the benefits of a number of us attending. It was amazing for me to get to hear directly from Tarana Burke, who is the African-American woman who led off on the #MeToo movement. She started that movement in response to working with young women, in particular, in her community who were sharing their stories of sexual violence, and she was mobilising a community response and was really conscious of that power imbalance between them sharing these really intimate moments in their lives and wanting them to know that this is something that wasn’t about them; it was about all of us. One of the highlights for me was a section that was all around dads how we can get dads more involved in raising babies right from birth. We’ve talked a lot in recent years around the criticality of the first thousand days of a child’s life, and some of the discussion was around how do we ensure dads are right in the middle of that as well. So really great to see some big emphasis on shifting some of what are really entrenched gender stereotypes around a woman’s role in the home and the family. It was interesting being in Canada at the time that the report on the missing indigenous women and girls was released, considering the importance of what was being relayed to the public around the impacts and the ongoing nature of colonisation, for me, as non-Māori, to be hearing and making those connections to be able to bring that into my considerations and my work here. One of the things that I was particularly impressed with was the Gates Foundation. Melinda Gates spoke on a number of occasions. If I’m honest, I hadn’t really appreciated the amount of investment, both in time and resources, that the Gates Foundation have put into many countries, their individual projects, but also making sure that we lift and we move the dial in terms of women’s equality in homes, in workplaces, and in Governments and Parliaments across the world. I think it’s always good to have a chance to put your local experience into a global framework and consider what more we might be doing internationally in terms of supporting inclusion and diversity and women’s rights, as well as what lessons of things that have been really successful overseas that we might be able to adopt. It is really important for women MPs from New Zealand to engage with others, whether they’re policymakers or those that are working at the very grassroots, like I met with in Vancouver: women who are leading organisations dealing with family violence, dealing with homelessness, dealing with the opportunity and need to lift girls’ education achievement. So it’s a balance of both.

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