Thursday, 30 October 2008

Election Survey: Erin Ebborn-Gillespie (Labour)

Erin emailed us to say she appreciated our survey but unfortunately doesn't have time to answer the questions. So I asked if we could publish her email, as a non-question-answering response, (a la Peter Tashkoff), which she was fine with. I've added in the links to her candidate profile etc. A full index of candidate responses can be found here.

Hi Julie and the women at The Hand Mirror,

My name is Erin Ebborn-Gillespie and I am the Labour candidate for Wigram (list number 51). My work/life imbalance is such that I haven't had a chance to answer your questionnaire even though I agree the issues raised remain relevant.

My background is that I am a family lawyer. I have previously been on the trust board for Camellia House in Palmerston North which provides emergency accommodation to women and children. I have been involved with the NZ Law Society Women's Consultative Group and with local women's legal associations. Last year I interned for 3 months at the Women’s National Commission in London. Currently I have an interest in the proposed teen parenting unit at Hornby High School.

While women have made many gains, and I believe Labour's policies continue to assist with this, it concerns me that within the community there seems to be a perception that women have already made it and there is no more work to be done. Or, worse, that we have gone too far!

I was surprised at the Women’s Expo recently that a young woman did not know that New Zealand led the world in granting women’s suffrage. What is happening to our herstory?

The women's movement has always been about empowering women. Over the last few years we have seen a greater collective voice from men's groups. I acknowledge that there are men's issues and gender issues relevant to men deserve to be addressed. But it is important that this is done in a way which enables both genders (and transgender etc) to move forward together. Improving one gender's place in the community should not be done by impeding gains made by the other.

From my experience as a family lawyer, the Family Court has reacted to address issues raised by men's groups - not as extensively as those groups wish - but I have certainly noticed a change. Women did not respond with a strong collective voice to those challenges.

My view is that violence is an issue which affects all members of our community – young, old, male, female, gay, straight etc. It concerns me when violence against women is responded to with “but women are violent too.” While some women are violent, just as only some men are violent, this response excuses violence against women. To me, family violence remains a gender issue first and foremost even though all forms of violence within our extended family need to be addressed. A key step is the message “It’s not OK” but also to address alcohol/drug issues and provide support to our families so that stressors do not lead to violence. I do not believe that greater punitive measures address the root problems of violence.

I endorse the comments Anjum has made about the negative attacks on women in positions of responsibility. We remain targets for comments about our appearance, sexuality, marital status and family life.

I also acknowledge there are different challenges faced by Maori, Pasifika and ethnic women.

New Zealand has led the world on women’s rights, social welfare and our stance on being nuclear free. We need to continue to keep women’s rights and human rights to the forefront of our agenda.

I had intended to simply acknowledge the importance of the issues raised in your survey and to thank you for it. My reply has become lengthier than I intended however women’s issues remain one of my passions.

Kind regards
Erin Ebborn-Gillespie

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