Why Suffrage Day Matters in 2020

After a whirlwind beginning of the year with Covid-19’ continuous ripple of disruptions, this September and its events provides us with the opportunity to both reflect on and champion our approaches to diversity and inclusion.

This week marks Suffrage Day in Aotearoa on Saturday 19th September. To celebrate this occasion is to look back on the efforts, sacrifices and challenges that lead to not only women gaining the vote, but how our lives look now. Most importantly in 2020, it gives us another opportunity to reflect on Aotearoa’s present journey to diversity and what we can continue to do to benefit wāhine as we now stare down a tunnel of post-Covid uncertainty.

Yesterday’s Suffrage Day 2020 Webinar was a space to look back on the role wāhine Māori played in women receiving the right to vote. These valuable learnings can be used as we work to dismantle the systematic issues that still disproportionately affect the standing of wāhine Māori in political areas, as we commit to improving diversity in our world today.

In post-Covid Aotearoa, this reflection is crucial in ensuring we can keep the advancement of women’s rights high on the agenda. We need to keep the spotlight on the existing inequalities that threaten to be deepened if we stand idle

We know women have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19: notably in the June quarter, where 90% of 11,000 job losses were women (Statistics NZ). On a global scale, women have been reported to account for over 54% of job losses, despite making up only 39% of global employment (McKinsey).

We’re yet to see the full extent of this, as the ripple effects are still being carried throughout our nation.

Spikes in domestic violence, expectations to take on unpaid labour such as a responsibility to care for whānau, redundancies and job losses (in female-dominated industries like hospitality, sales, domestic care, cleaning) are among the many impacts Covid’s ripple will have on women.

This is set to perpetuate the impacts experienced in previous crises and also disproportionately affect wāhine Māori and Pasifika women — who will additionally be more likely to grapple with access to healthcare and support services.

Global Women are proud to partner with organisations who are deliberately making decisions to ensure women are kept in the pipeline, especially as many undergo restructuring and continue to face uncertainties. 

As individuals, we must be personally invested in taking action in our organisations to keeping women in the pipeline. 

We must immediately take action in order to mitigate the impacts that Covid and its long tail will have. 

If not now when, if not us who? 

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” — Rumi


About Ava Wardecki – Ava channels her love of storytelling into writing and as a director of a social media company. With a background in corporate branding, social media and public relations and a conjoint Marketing and Public Relations degree from AUT and HEC Paris, she’s worked across corporate, fashion, lifestyle and hospitality industries. Paris born and Auckland raised and a keen traveller, she’s passionate about how understanding and creating cultures that can inspire and evoke change.