I spend a lot of time awake at 4am. One night in early June, I started down the rabbit hole of thinking about the ‘80s cultural artefact, the ‘Friendship Book', and the lack of gender lens across the 2020 budget.
I had assumed that because Aotearoa New Zealand has a phenomenal female leader and was the first in the world to ‘give’ women the vote, that Treasury would put a gender lens across the 2020 budget. While almost every sector of society is severely challenged by COVID, data has consistently shown the one group to be the worst hit across almost every indicator is women. It seemed like a no brainer.
I was wrong.
The modern-day equivalent of the Friendship Book is a mix between a WhatsApp group chat, Instagram motivational post and a closed Facebook group. The Friendship Book was an actual book, often plastered with cut-outs of Dolly magazine, filled with inspirational quotes, covered in glittery Dura-Seal and clutched to one’s budding bosom throughout early adolescence.
Recently I was flicking through my Friendship Book and found a quote, unattributed to any former high school friend, written without the use of felts or the lettering book.
“Assume nothing, trust no-one.”
In black and white, there it was. I had been warned. Assume nothing, trust no-one.
But I had assumed and trusted that over 52 percent of the population’s concerns, aspirations and economic fortunes would be addressed by their elected representatives.
I assumed that there would be systems in place to collect information and data about women, wāhine, trans women and those who walk between the binary worlds I assumed that this data would inform policy decisions and budget spend.
Again, I was wrong.
Minister Carmel Sepuloni said recently in an online Q&A that, “Gender auditing, having the information and data that we need to be able to inform the decisions that we make” is one of the top issues facing women today.
No-one is asking women what they need and want.
4am rage kicked in, as did the mantra on page one of my Friendship Book, this one written in bubble writing and edged in glitter: “Girls can do anything”.
Within two weeks of my restless night, the Gender Justice Collective Te Roopu Manatika-ā-Ira, an independent, non-profit network drawn from all walks of life, had formed. Our aim is to work towards making Aotearoa New Zealand a world leader in Gender Equity. We have our work cut out for us.
We started where all good policy should start, by assuming nothing.
We asked women, wāhine, non-binary people, trans women, and intersex people what they needed and wanted from their elected representatives.
Over 3500 people responded to our YouChoose2020 survey. That comprised of eight categories; the three most supported issues from each category formed the basis of the Election 2020 Scorecard.
The results are damning for political parties.
99 percent of parties did not have a specific women’s policy, although women and/or gender minorities were mentioned in policy documents.
But what is clear is that the women, wāhine, non-binary people, trans women, and intersex people know what they need and want.
Economic independence, freedom from violence, health care, care for Papatūānuku and more opportunities to live in the fullness of our beings alongside those we love. We want to be visible, valued and celebrated. And, we want men to step up as agents of gender equity.
Honestly, I don’t think it is too much to ask.
While we take some time to do the deeper analysis of the survey, we have put together the top 10 policy changes wanted by YouChoose2020 respondents.
Regardless of which parties make up the new government after the election, the GJC has some robust data and insights on the issues affecting women and will work to ensure the incoming government have our concerns high on their agenda.
And, you can trust us on that.
Main illustration by Sarah Wilkins.