In yesterday’s parliamentary budget debate, Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox celebrated new funding of $2.1 million for suicide prevention tagged to rangatahi Maori, i.e. Maori youth. Allocating this money for youth suicide seems disingenuous given that youth suicide rates are actually lower than the average rate for older age groups, but it does seem reasonable to try to address the relatively small disparity between Maori and non-Maori suicide rates. The relevant proportion in suicide rate has been about 1.2 Maori to 1 non-Maori, so the much greater gender difference in suicide of approximately 3.5 males to 1 female would suggest that around $6 million should have been allocated for male suicide prevention. However, the amount specifically allocated to reduce the huge gender disproportion in suicide was exactly $0.00.
The newly-named Ministry for Women will again receive about $5 million this year with an intention to continue that provision in the years to come. The activities on which this will be spent include:
– assessing and advising on all new law changes to ensure they improve outcomes for women,
– reporting to the UN and other agencies about the status of women,
– providing suitable women nominees for appointment to state sector boards and committees,
– providing administrative, advisory and research support for the National Advisory Council on the
Employment of Women,
– providing support services for the Minister for Women.
Other government agencies such as the Human Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission seem to focus primarily on advancing women’s interests and consistently avoid any acknowledgement of men’s disadvantage. Many other government agencies including the Social Development Ministry, Child Youth and Family, Family Court, Health Ministry, Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Education prioritize the interests of females. So much more of our taxes are being spent on advancing women than is clear from the discriminatory funding of a Ministry for Women and other overtly female-specific initiatives.
Our economy is maintained at the disproportional expense of men’s workplace deaths, injuries, health and lifespan. Our economy and the infrastructure of our modern existence continues to rely disproportionately on men’s efforts, talents and wisdom. Yet men are treated so badly that they commit suicide at high rates. More men commit suicide each year than die in road accidents (some of which will also be suicides). But while special provision in the budget is made for the needs of women, Maori and various other specific groups, the word ‘men’ doesn’t even appear. There is one allocation of about $1 million for a Prostate Awareness and Quality Improvement Programme and one assumes (but can’t be certain) that will be specific to men’s needs, so at least that’s something. That seems to be the only budget allocation for anything specifically related to men.