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August 5, 2013 | by  | in News |
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“Road to Hell Built on Great Intentions”

Five influential women in politics spoke to students on the “intersection of gender and politics” at a panel held at Victoria last Tuesday.

The panel featured Rae Julian, President of UN Women Aotearoa New Zealand and former Human Rights Commissioner; Helen Kelly, President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions; Jan Logie, Green MP and spokesperson for the ‘Everyone needs the right help’ sexual-violence campaign; Victoria lecturer Greta Snyder; and Claudette Hauiti, award-winning Māori broadcaster and the first openly lesbian Māori National MP.

The discussion addressed a range of issues relevant in politics and further afield today; including the gender pay-gap, allocations for female seats, the grouping of women in low-paying jobs such as nursing and social work, and systematic discrimination against women in the workforce, including the ‘glass ceiling’ and the ‘invisible barriers’ women face when moving up in their careers.

Tension arose during discussion, with Hauiti stating some feminist ideologies ignore other minorities like wahine Māori.

“Sometimes it’s quite patronising, and sometimes in your good intent it’s actually quite kind of racist and sexist.

“The road to hell was built on great intentions,” said Hauiti.

Hauiti later walked out of the panel during a discussion on the glass ceiling.

The panel was hosted by Youth for UN Women New Zealand and the VUWSA Women’s Group. Sunshine Prior, the coordinator of Youth for UN Women Aotearoa, told Salient the event was organised to be “pertinent to young students and focused on a diverse range of issues”.

Both Prior and Grace Kahukore-Fitzgibbon of the VUWSA Women’s Group were immensely pleased with the turnout and how the event went overall.

“The event went fantastically, exceeding all our expectations,” said Kahukore-Fitzgibbon.

All the panellists agreed the road to equality was a long one, with Logie concluding “we’ve still got a long way to go”.

Women’s Week will be held in Week 5 of this trimester. Students can find the VUWSA Women’s Group at facebook.com/VuwsaWomensGroup, or by emailing vuwsawomensgroup2013@gmail.com.

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