11 July 2012

Sometimes we only see what we want to. The underpinning thesis of this blog is that people working in the New Zealand public sector have a strong spirit of service, a commitment to the public interest. That spirit of service builds a sense of trustworthiness, which is reflected in public trust and confidence in government agencies and those who work for them.

The international experience seems to be that countries with a trustworthy state sector, rated highly by Transparency International because of the openness of their administration and their low levels of corruption, stimulate the growth of strong communities. They score highly on measures ranging from good and sustainable governance to peace and happiness. They promote equality and fairness. The Scandinavians ( and New Zealand ) are often among the best.

A peaceful, well governed country with high living standards should engender a sense of confidence among its citizens that public places are safe.  We haven’t descended to the public execution of women for adultery, as occurred this week in Afghanistan, but  New Zealand’s corruption-lite society does not provide a sense of security to its women.

 A Gallup survey published on Friday shows that New Zealand is seen by its women as a much less safe place than as seen by its men. The streets at night are seen by many women as unsafe. New Zealand has the highest disparity between the genders of their expectations of physical security. New Zealand women feel 35% less safe walking alone at night than New Zealand males (50% cf 85%).

This 35% disparity in New Zealand is worse than any other of the 143 countries surveyed. The disparity in both Australian and United States is 27%. It is 20% in the United Kingdom and 17% in Canada.  

Women in Georgia are most likely to say they feel safe walking alone at night. While 93% of Georgian males feel safe, the figure is only 3% lower among women.

Gallup refers to the high rates of violence against women in some developed societies – and specifically the 2011 UN report that domestic violence in New Zealand is among the worst of 22 developed countries.  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke recently about “…studies suggesting that women’s physical security and higher levels  of gender equality correlate with security and peacefulness of entire countries.”  So why is New Zealand an exception?

And why does the Gallup survey appear not to have been reported in any New Zealand media?