Monday, 29 September 2008

madam speaker's final speech

i thought this part of hon margaret wilson's valedictory speech might be of interest, particularly as she has been one of the most effective campaigners for women in nz:

I noted in my maiden speech a concern for the rights of women. The struggle for equality has been a main thread throughout my life. It cannot be denied that progress has been made. It also cannot be denied that progress has come with women adapting to the system. There is still no fundamental recognition that equality means equality of difference, not equality for women to be like men. This will be the next major challenge. Can the experience of women be incorporated in such a way that they have real choices which extend beyond survival within a system still controlled by the male experience? A practical example is the way we organise the business of Parliament. We have made progress here by trying to accommodate school holidays and we now at last have a room for breast feeding and a child care centre. All good progress but we have not fundamentally looked at a work/life balance that would benefit both women and men. That is one of those big scary ideas we have yet to have the courage to face.

5 comments:

Tui said...

It also cannot be denied that progress has come with women adapting to the system. There is still no fundamental recognition that equality means equality of difference, not equality for women to be like men.

Hits it right on the button. As much as I am not a gender essentialist, and reject notions of "women's behaviour" and "men's behaviour", I do think there are traits which are exhibited primarily by women and primarily by men and the ones exhibited by women are devalued, seen as ineffective, as compromising, as sentimental, as manipulative - I could go on. The jury is out, for me, on whether women have developed these behaviours as tools to deal with a society where their power is restricted or whether these behaviours are devalued because women employ them - or it's a combination of both, and socialisation, the way women are taught to behave - but whatever the cause it's a problem, and one that Wilson expresses the problem so much more eloquently than I could.

Hugh said...

So what did Margaret Wilson do for women during her six years as Minister of Justice, exactly?

stargazer said...

ahh, the machine lost my comment,
so i'll briefly try to remember what i said.

margaret was never minister of justice, and focused on a review of the human rights legislation and the treaty settlement stuff. she was minister for courts, and brought us the supreme court. in terms of woman friendly stuff, i'd count the employment relations act, which was her first job in 2000. also, she was part of the cabinet that brought us paid parental leave, the relationship property act, a significant raise in wages for two occupations where women feature regularly - nursing and teaching - and much more.

Julie said...

Margaret spoke a bit about this at the last Drinking Liberally in Auckland and I thought it was really interesting, so thanks for posting the relevant excerpt from her valedictory Anjum. I had been wondering where to find it for myself, to see what she said - thanks for saving me the trouble! :-)

stargazer said...

oops, missing from the first line of the second para of my previous comment: she was associate minister of justice and in that role focused on ...

i also think one of the major things margaret has given us is pushing through the glass ceiling and being the first woman attorney general and first woman speaker of the house. she has been one of the women who have normalised women being in positions of power, even though she's had to take a whole load of "femocracy", "feminazi" and "sisterhood" type crap for it.