This response is from Kate Sutton, Labour's candidate for Epsom and number 63 on the Labour Party list. You can find a full index of all responses to date, including a party response from Labour and individual replies from several other Labour candidates, here.
The Questions & Answers
Q1. What do you believe is currently the single biggest issue facing New Zealand women, and how would you like to address it if you are elected?
I believe that the biggest issue facing all New Zealanders is the state of the economy. It is very important that all Kiwis jobs are protected at this time and that kiwi families are supported. Labour has an economic plan to help kiwis save and for the government to invest significantly in infrastructure during this time to promote economic growth.
Labour understands that investing in our people through education and our infrastructure will make us a more productive country.
I think it is vital that we look after all kiwis during this difficult time.
Question 2. New Zealand women are paid, on average, over $300 a week less than men, and the difference is worse for Maori and Pacific Island women. What do you propose as a first step towards closing the gender pay gap?
Labour has a good record in this area and we are committed to improving the economic well being of all women. We recognise that there is a gender pay gap and have worked hard to reduce it by getting rid of the Employment Contracts Act and replacing it with the fairer Employment Relations Act and importantly establishing the Pay and Employment Equity taskforce which has begun to address the gender pay gap in parts of the public service, the public health and education sectors. We need to return a Labour government to ensure this work continues.
Question 3. Do you think NZ's current approach to reproductive rights (abortion, contraception etc) is correct? (Yes or No or No Answer, please)
If not, what changes would you want to make?
I think that NZs approach to contraception is correct, we have made doctors visits cheaper and put more funding into health services in schools.
With regards to abortion, as a conscience issue in parliament it is important to remember that this is my personal opinion and not that of the Labour government. I personally believe in a women's right to choose with regards to abortion and any women's health issues. I believe that there is still more to do with regards to access, affordability and quality of abortion services in New Zealand
Question 4. The police and the courts do not work in preventing violence against women. What other government actions would you take to ensure women can live without fear.
It is important for me to say that the "Its not okay" campaign has made big difference towards our attitudes to reporting domestic violence but there is more to do to reduce the incidence of domestic violence in New Zealand
Labour in government will enact legislation that, in particular, provides for police-issued 'on the spot' protection orders; strengthens penalties for protection order breaches; and requires closer Family Court scrutiny before protection orders are discharged.
Question 5. Those who do the caring work in our society, paid and unpaid, are often the least recognized and the lowest paid, and they work the longest hours. What do you see as the priority to address these issues for those caring for our sick, our elderly and our children?
At the core of my values is making sure all New Zealanders get a fair go and have decent working conditions and a fair wage.
Under Labour the minimum wage has increased nine times, and we've committed to increasing the minimum wage with inflation or tied to the average wage – whichever is greater.
Labour recognize the need to support and develop workers who provide valuable support to older New Zealanders and our children and we know that low pay and high staff turnover have been a major issue in aged care, health and education. We want to see wages rise in these sectors.
Question 6. The Ministry of Health has recently launched a campaign to encourage breastfeeding and is now recommending that babies be breastfeed to at least one year old. What do you think the government could do to ensure that every woman who wants to breast feed can?
Labour introduced paid parental leave to give new mums more time with their babies. Labour supports all measures to help new mums breastfeed for as long as they want too.
We have introduced flexible worked hours and employers now have to provide breaks and facilities for mums to breastfeed at work.
Labour with the Greens are the only parties who have shown commitment to supporting mothers in this area
Question 7. What single measure do you think our political organizations could take to better encourage young women to be involved and take on leadership positions in our communities?
The Labour Party has 36 percent female MPs, we have a female Prime Minister who is personally a role model to me. Within the Labour Party we take gender equity very seriously and practise it at every level.
Nevertheless, finding women in leadership roles within our economy is still an exception, rather than the norm. Labour recognises that we still need to encourage greater participation by women on public and private sector boards as well as positions of leadership in the public sector.
We have worked hard with the Ministry of Women's affairs to increase female participation on public sector boards but we still have more to do and only a Labour led government has a history of recognising the importance of women in leadership and will continue to work hard in this area.
Question 8. Do you see domestic violence as an issue for women, for men, or for all New Zealanders? (Women, or Men, or all New Zealanders please)
If elected, what strategies would you like to pursue to eliminate domestic violence?
Domestic violence is an issue for all New Zealanders but we need to recognise that women are more likely to be the victims of domestic violence and we cannot let this out of our sights.
Labour will continue to support the work of the Taskforce for Action on Family Violence and their It's Not OK! campaign. We are committed to providing ongoing support and security of funding for community groups who are at the front line. And we will strengthen the Domestic Violence Act to better protect victims and enable police to crack down on perpetrators of domestic violence.
Question 9. Successive governments have effectively cut the Domestic Purposes Benefit. Do you believe people raising children alone should have sufficient financial support from the state so that they do not need to go to work until they believe that is the best choice for their family? (Yes or No or No Answer, please)
Labour values the job that sole parents undertake when raising children and do not believe there is a need to adopt a punitive approach - punishing beneficiaries only means their children suffer the most.
Labour actively encourages people into work where possible. The key point is that the government, through incentives such as Working for Families, abatements and 20 Hours' Free early childhood education, supports people into the workforce when they are ready.
Question 10. Women do the vast majority of cooking and shopping, and increases in food prices are a burden borne disproportionately by women. What do you think our government can or should do to ensure that everyone has access to good food?
Labour is committed to affordable basics for all Kiwi families – that is why we cut taxes at the lowest rate and increase benefits, Working for Families and Superannuation every year to help families meet rising costs. We are committed to doing what we can to help ease some of the pressure. While we can't control global prices, we are committed to ensuring that the most vulnerable Kiwis are always able to access affordable food for their families.
Question 11. Do you have any further comments that you wish to make about the role of women in our society? Please feel free to share your thoughts here.
There is still so much to do. As you have pointed out in your questions - Women still earn less than men, women are still not equally represented in leadership roles, there are still barriers to some areas of women's health, there are still barriers to raising children and working. there are still traditional gender roles at play in our households which can limit the choices that women may have in their lives and most importantly, for me, women are still the victims of domestic violence. Overwhelmingly this violence is perpetuated by people these women know and may have been intimate with - its not okay!
I am a Labour candidate because I know that Labour is the Party that will represent the needs to kiwi women in parliament and that we will deliver for all kiwi families.
I am a Labour candidate because I believe that every New Zealander no matter what their background, ethnicity, gender, age have every opportunity to achieve their potential.