Join us on International Women’s Day for a panel event exploring how we can improve diversity and participation in local government.
First published in Hamilton News 14 December 2018
She should have been safe, but she wasn’t. That’s the message our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern relayed to Grace Millane’s family on Monday as her suspected murderer faced court. The outpouring of sorrow, grief and guilt from Kiwis led to two candlelight vigils being held in Hamilton and throughout the country on Wednesday, and in true 2018 fashion a torrent of attention on social media focused on how this could happen here.
I found it hard not to think back to the case of Margery Hopegood who unfortunately found a similar fate here in Hamilton in 1992, days after arriving in the country. It reminds me that she should have been safe, but wasn’t. We should all be safe, but aren’t. It’s a reminder to us all that Aotearoa has an secret uglier than our less than 100% pure image – which is our rate of physical and sexual violence towards women. I feel compelled to discuss this today due to #notallmen trending online. No, it’s not all men. But, it’s too many men, and this is one instance where you don’t get the luxury of putting up a wall to deny blame. We all have to take responsibility for this.
Whenever we read an article about violence towards women there is an element of victim blaming. Why was she travelling solo? (How dare she be independent). We check what she was wearing in her last photo. (Skirts a little too high, Dear). We give well intentioned warnings to our daughters to, keep a phone with them, not drink too much and stay with friends. What we don’t do is spend enough time telling our boys and men that they have no right to touch a woman without express permission, that “no means no” and that it’s not okay to “keep trying lest she changes her mind”. Violence is never justified. I was pleased to see strangulation and assault towards family members highlighted in the Family violence Act. We don’t spend enough time telling the #notallmen brigade that it would be more useful for them to be pulling up their friends or family members who act or talk out of line. Speak up against the violence. Intervene.
If you find yourself wanting to direct your anger and sorrow anywhere – it should be at changing our culture that is currently accepting violence towards women. We all have a responsibility to keep women like Grace safe, our daughters safe, my daughter safe.
Golriz Ghahraman, an Iranian-Kiwi became the first refugee to be sworn in as an MP in 2017. She is a member of the Green Party of Aotearoa and is spokesperson for a raft of portfolios including human rights and corrections. I really admire the work that she is doing and felt privileged to have the opportunity to speak with her this week.
I asked for her views on the Grace Millane case, which has stunned the country this week. We discussed violence towards women and the need to stop tolerating devaluation of women. She gave her advice to women looking at putting themselves forward for governance roles – pointing out that there needs to be a change in culture and systemic changes to make working within those roles possible for those with a family.
We discussed human rights, in terms of the right to vote, which Golriz is advocating we return for prisoners; the UN migration pact and the CPTPPA.
Listen now. http://bit.do/episode-111
Published first in Hamilton News 30 November 2018
Situation Vacant: Hamilton City Councillor. Fixed term role starts October 2019. Remuneration starts at $71,638. Job description: To represent and lead the community, set policies, make regulatory decisions and review council performance. Preference: Female.
Women hold a mere 25% of the seats in our current city council. Did you notice? Probably not. We’ve become used to our local government lacking diversity in gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background. But, imagine how different the dynamics and decision-making process of a council that truly represented our city would be. I’m not asking for quotas to achieve diversity, we don’t need them – but we do need to support more women to put their name forward for next year’s local elections. Will you join me?
Are we lacking strong female community leaders? Are we short on ambitious, strategic professional women? Would Mums with young families prefer to stay in the home? Heck no, definitely not and no thanks.
The under-representation of women in our council was the topic of a kōrero I initiated last week. I was interested in barriers to women standing and what other women could offer them to help. The experiences of women are different, but in general we are reluctant to stand for family reasons, financial reasons and because, rather sadly we don’t back ourselves enough. Women ponder over a longer set of criteria than males before considering themselves ‘qualified’ enough to stand. Basically, women don’t rate themselves as highly as a similarly or even lesser ‘qualified’ male would. Go figure.
The shining beacon of hope from that kōrero was that a group of strong, capable and passionate women have offered experience, skill, creativity and knowledge to support other women to stand next year. This is exciting, encouraging and could be transformational for how public service looks going forward.
So today, I’m asking the women of Kirikiriroa Hamilton to consider themselves worthy of representing our city and to know that there is support for them to do this. If it’s not your cup of tea, make sure you shoulder tap an inspirational wāhine to put themselves forward and then join us in supporting them to succeed.
Read more -Barriers to women standing in local elections
Listen to this week’s podcast.
6m “One eye open” – Albi & The Wolves
10m INTERVIEW with Paula Southgate Hamilton City
28:30m “It ain’t easy” Albi & The Wolves
30:45m INTERVIEW continued
48:32m “Don’t blink” Cartoon Villain
50:30m Local events
54.30m “Mayday” The Recently Deceived
We’re joined by Hamilton East City Councillor, and current chair of the Community services and environment committee Paula Southgate Hamilton City She shares her journey from kindergarten committee to Hamilton City Councillor – as we talk about some of the barriers to entering politics when you have a young family.
She explains what the ‘Local indigenous biodiversity pilot’ is and why she’s ‘speaking for the bats’. Sometimes its hard to reconcile growth of cities with environmental protection – and this is a current concern with the plans for Peacocke. It seems the best way to ensure that the environment is not forgotten is to make sure the Councillors know it is a priority for you. Paula was with the Waikato Regional Council for 15 years so is well versed in environmental issues – which is a win for us as she understands the interconnections.
We discuss how we might improve feedback to council, and encourage more residents to have their say on the issues. She shared advice on encouraging some of the skilled and passionate leaders in our community to campaign for a seat at the council table next year. (Interview starts at 10min).