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Wed 8th June 2005

It’s expensive being a woman

Filed under: General — JohnPotter @ 9:19 am

The first national Women’s Convention in nearly thirty years is being held in Wellington over Queens Birthday weekend. And if the registration fee is anything to go by, you have to have the salary of a Theresa Gattung to count as a woman in New Zealand these days.

The organisers are charging $337.50 to be able to participate in the Conference. For an additional charge you can participate in the entertainment that is being provided.

“The expensive registration fee is just indicative of the attitude of the organisers. The Conference will only represent those women who can afford to attend. Pressing needs of women are unlikely to be grappled with in such an atmosphere – such as real action on pay equity, domestic violence and women’s unpaid labour,” said Jasmine Freemantle, an organiser of an alternative meeting being held in Wellington this Saturday.

The Conference has set up an Awhina fund for women who earn less than $30,000 to apply for money for registration and travel costs. Ms Freemantle opposes the Awhina fund.

“The fund explicitly positions working class and poor women as second-class citizens. Because we do not have the money to attend such an event, we are required to appeal in order to gain entry to something that is supposedly representative” said Ms Freemantle.

“It’s a tragedy a much needed hui has taken such an exclusive form, because a real National Women’s Convention is long overdue” concludes Ms Freemantle.

An alternative open meeting is scheduled for Saturday 4 June in the Mezzanine Meeting Room at the Wellington City Library, starting at 12:30. The purpose of this meeting is to devise and promote an agenda that is useful to the working class and poor women who have effectively been prohibited from organising and attending the Women’s Convention. It will have a focus on the practicalities faced by many women, such as living off an inadequate income, the undervaluing of women’s paid and unpaid work, and the stigmatisation of those on state support.

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