Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia pledges equal gender representation

Posted May 10, 2016

[Anglican Taonga] The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia has decided to press for equal gender representation in its highest decision-making bodies.

Just back from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in New York, Archdeacon Mere Wallace (Te Waipounamu) moved a General Synod motion that sets the church on track to meet the UNCSW goal of 50:50 gender representation.

Archdeacon Mere praised the Diocese of Polynesia, which last year set a goal of equal numbers of women and men in decision-making bodies across the diocese.

She also drew synod’s attention to the motion’s appendix of research from the province’s Anglican Women’s Studies Centre, which reveals continuing low participation of women in provincial decision-making bodies.

Nine speakers rose to support the motion, including Bishop Helen-Ann Hartley (Waikato) who called on synod to remember that women also need support once in leadership roles.

Even today, women leaders are called to answer questions for no other reason than that they are women.

Bishop Kelvin Wright (Dunedin) offered a message for Anglican men.

“There is still a culture of male privilege in our society. It is demeaning, dangerous and not acceptable,” he told synod. “This happens because we men have let women fight this issue on their own. It is time for men to make it our struggle, too. Otherwise, we miss out on the contribution of too many talented, capable women.”

Seconding the motion, the Rev. Pane Kawhia (Tairāwhiti) lauded the Rev. Hannah Pomare (Te Waipounamu) who this year became the first woman in Tikanga Māori to be a nominee for bishop.

She also pointed out this church needs to aim for change across all roles,

“We need to keep considering women for all our committees, not just the pastoral ones, but the financial and legal ones, too.”

A second part to the motion directs the church to ensure that women’s leadership is visible in liturgical life at the highest levels.

The motion was passed to applause across synod.