The persistent gender pay gap, especially for Indigenous women, shows we don’t value motherhood

What value do we place on mothers?

Magda Ehlers/pexels

What value do we place on mothers?

Te Aroha Grace (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei) is a judge for the NZ Women of Influence Awards, is the relationship manager at Figure Group and is formerly head of innovation at Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.

OPINION: At te ao Māori, we keep our ancestors close. But lately I’ve been thinking about what my various ancestors must think about the position of mothers today.

Some of the statistics that were presented to me about the pay gap and the fact that we are penalizing women for what I believe to be their superpower – the ability to have children reminded me again how much women indigenous people are vulnerable.

Let us think of the place of the mother in the home. If we were to ask ourselves what motherhood does for human consciousness and empowerment, what value would we place on this role? And as an additional salient question, how much would we pay to do this job?

* It’s time to talk about the pay gap
* How parenthood continues to cost women more than men
* How parenthood continues to cost women more than men

I asked the men how many of them would change their current job to be the primary carer of the children at home. From what I’ve read, 80% of them by default think it’s not their role or at least think they actually have other priority roles. For me, this is the legacy of the issues of gender inequality that we face.

If we value the future, we must value our children, but do we value the role of caring for them?

Think of what motherhood has done for us, it’s no small feat: it has generated and nurtured the future and on a large scale (increased world population). From this perspective, corporations benefit from what mothers do, but corporations have traditionally shown little support for motherhood other than legislative obligations.

While Māori wāhine earn only 81% of what a male pākehā earns, they have almost 20% less to spend on housing, education and retirement.


While Māori wāhine earn only 81% of what a male pākehā earns, they have almost 20% less to spend on housing, education and retirement.

And then there is the problem of mothers entering or re-entering the paid workforce that ignores them for their unpaid experience and thus assigns them low-paying jobs. The statistics prove it.

Every year, Statistics New Zealand announces our pay gap, which has averaged just over 9% for over 10 years. But in some areas it is much more important, as evidence shows that for every dollar earned by a pākehā man, a Maori woman earns only 81 cents.

A pay gap is the average difference between what people earn. It’s caused by many things, like pay inequality (paying people differently for the same job because of gender or race), pay inequality (preventing some people from getting a promotion), and prejudice. and discrimination.

What is most concerning is that of the reasons women earn less than men, only 20% can be explained by childbirth and being the primary caregiver. This means that 80% of the reasons we pay our women less is due to conscious or unconscious bias.

Let’s play the statistics. If Maori women only earn 81% of what pākehā men earn throughout their lives, they have 19% less to spend on food and housing, 19% less to spend on their children and education. When they retire, they will have 19% less savings to live on, even though they will likely live much longer. What is the reason? There are not any.

In my indigenous childcare heritage, once the baby was born, it was more often the men who wrapped it up, hugged it to their chest, and looked after the children. The nuances of women’s attitude made them much more strategic in an empathetic sense and such that the value was highly prized and regularly practiced.

Unfortunately, as the Western economic empire grew, mothers were left out and here we are now where economic sovereignty looks pale, stale and masculine. It’s not even my language, it’s the language of the industry.

Somehow, along the way, we stopped valuing women for their strategic powers and wisdom. I applaud the mahi from the MindTheGap team trying to change the law so companies are required to report their pay gap. If this helps bring back into balance what has been out of balance for so long, it’s time. At the very least, the effort will be honorable and worthy.

It’s time to honor and support Indigenous women in our community – who are the most vulnerable human beings in the world due to the classic mistreatment they have suffered from dominant monocultural agendas.

They waited too long.


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