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What is Red Bag Day all about?

Red Bag Day represents the additional days a woman needs to work to earn what a man earned the prior calendar year.

This year it is February 5th, 36 days, representing a gender pay gap of 9.8%.

This is an increase from 2023 (8.94%), and although the long-term trend shows a decreasing gender pay gap, this progress has stalled.

It took significant policy-making and private-sector action to help move the dial further, and women cannot afford (literally) to lose that ground.

The gender pay gap is much wider for minority ethnic women (as shown in the chart), as well as migrant, refugee, and disabled women. Policy and initiatives that uplift these groups will ensure better outcomes for all women.

What’s at stake?

Why do we still track this? Yes, this is still a big deal for women:

  • It affects household decisions – like parental leave and unpaid household work.

  • It has a huge impact on retirement savings, the average KiwiSaver balance for a male is 25% higher than that for a female.

  • It weakens women’s economic power, and this is exacerbated for vulnerable women living in higher-risk environments (e.g. households living in poverty).

The role of policymakers:

Some key policy successes in this space are:

  • Equal Pay Act 1972 (making it unlawful to discriminate based on pay).

  • Free early childhood care from age three onwards.

  • Te Rōpū Whakarite Utu Ira Tangata Equal Pay Taskforce (addressing the public service pay gap).

But there is more that could be done:

  • Require mandatory reporting of gender pay statistics.

  • Legislate to prevent pay discrimination based on ethnicity or disability.

  • Fair Pay Agreements (which would address industries that are predominantly made up of lower-paid women workers).

  • Expanding free early childhood care and offering more affordable early childhood care.

  • Offering parental leave for non-primary carer partners.

  • Addressing unpaid and unrecognised work (e.g. those caring for children or others continuing to get Kiwisaver contributions).

What can for-profit companies do?

  • Offer a family-friendly, flexible work culture.

  • Report your gender pay statistics (e.g. Mind the Gap).

  • Address unconscious bias.

  • Ensure diversity in governance and leadership.

  • Support women's personal and professional development.

  • Have proactive diversity and inclusion policies and foster a culture of inclusion.

What will BPW NZ do?

  • Continue to advocate with policymakers.

  • Have a business lens as part of the Women’s Empowerment Principles Committee.

  • Continue to raise awareness with our membership and networks.

  • Offer women a space for their own personal and professional development - check out our monthly online networking sessions BPW Aotearoa.


For more information about some of our statistics above:

Statistics have been based (as previous BPW NZ calculations have been) on the average hourly rate of waged and salaried earners found in the earnings from wages and salaries and self-employment, by sex, age groups and ethnic groups table.

CEVEP: BPW NZ uses the Coalition for Equal Value, Equal Pay (CEVEP) formula for calculating the gender pay gap. CEVEP monitors the pay gaps by gender and ethncity using average hourly ordinary time earnings as reported by Statistics NZ's annual Income Survey, which from 2016 is undertaken as part of the Household Labour Force Survey.

Pay rates per hour are the best indicator of fair pay. CEVEP uses the average (mean) because this is the indicator that has been used to monitor progress since 1974, as well as for more technical reasons discussed on their website.


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