I’m Jan Logie the Green party candidate for Mana and with your party vote, I along with the wonderful Holly Walker beside me, will be one of the new Green MPs in parliament.
I want to start first by acknowledging our Te Tiriti o Waitangi, children, youth, disability, elders, ethnic, and rainbow policies are as important as our women’s policy when it comes to understanding the changes needed to achieve gender equity in Aotearoa.
We are always mindful of our diversities and the potential to unintentionally increase inequalities if we work towards the liberation of the generic woman who all too often seems to be cis middle aged, white, middle class, straight, and physically and mentally abled. We also recognize not everyone is male or female.
Tonight I will talk about gender based violence.
The statistics in Aotearoa- New Zealand are horrific and as many of us know dearly the lived reality of this violence is much much worse. The pain and energy and work that we spend surviving and trying to heal ourselves and those we care for in a culture that predominantly still distrusts and blames us is an ongoing tragedy. We clearly need to change the culture that still too often automatically blames or disbelieves women.
Tonight I will speak mostly about response measures needed but that is not where the balance of effort is needed. We need to properly resource and support a variety of prevention measures.
But on to responses needed to support women leaving violent relationships.
The Greens will ensure the benefits provide enough of a safety net to enable women to stay away from places that are known to their abuser, such as work, and really focus on looking after themselves and their children, if they have any, until they’re feeling safe again. This will mean increasing benefits and not pressuring people to get back into paid work as soon as it’s available. Violence is a failure of our society and an adequate income during a time of transition is surely the least we can do to provide reparation.
We will also raise the minimum wage to $15 immediately and up to 2/3rds of the minimum wage within 3 years, strengthen collective bargaining, bring back the Training Incentive Allowance and address equal pay to enable women to be financially independent in the longer term.
There is a chronic housing shortage in this country and many women become homeless when they leave their relationships. Refuge is there, though often full, but it can only ever be a short term option. The Green party will increase support to Refuge and increase the stocks of warm healthy social housing. Maaori, Pacifika, refugee and disabled women should not be forced into relying on our prejudiced private rental market.
We will also ensure quality affordable child care and parenting help, and adequately resource Womens’ Refuge, Rape Crisis and other allied community groups and govt agencies to help ensure the courts, police and WINZ follow policy and practice consistently. This is not happening now.
Legal Aid needs to be reinstated and easily accessible so women can actually enter the justice system.
The National party is proposing to double the penalties for breaches of protection orders and give women some money to put locks on their doors. Doubling the penalties may just mean police are even less likely than now to enforce the orders or women will end up not getting child support as their ex pays off the fines.
The Green party believes we should listen to women and shape our policy around their needs not what might sound good to people wanting to get “tough on crime”. An increasingly punitive approach is not helpful. Many women still love their partners and want their children to have both parents. Harsher penalties are not the solution. Women are asking for the police to consistently enforce the orders and not interrogate them to decide if they will or not.
In terms of sexual violence I believe there are three things we need to do:
One we need to adequately resource the agencies working with survivors and change the Charities Act and funding contracts to enable them to advocate strongly for change without compromising their funding. Currently all too many community organizations are effectively censored by government policy and practice.
Secondly we need to actually start making the change away from the adversarial justice system that is so often revictimising women and children and completely failing to bring perpetrators to justice.
Thirdly we need to go back to challenging the socio, cultural and political systems, institutions, values and practices that continue to support gender based violence directly or indirectly. We need to undermine gender roles, victim blaming and sexism and promote non-violence.
We’ve got a lot of work to do.
I hope you will party vote Green this year so we can do this work together.