Human rights can reduce working poverty post COVID-19
Graphic: Commissioner Saunoamaali'i Karanina Sumeo
A new report sets out a framework for a human rights-based approach to alleviate poverty in working households across Aotearoa New Zealand.
A new report by the Human Rights Commission sets out a framework for a human rights-based approach to alleviate poverty in working households across Aotearoa New Zealand.
Human Rights Responses to Poverty in Working Households builds on research conducted by the AUT's New Zealand Work and Research Institute which found more than 50,000 working households live in poverty before COVID-19.
"The experience of poverty in working households is avoidable. A human rights approach can help identify the systemic changes needed to reduce poverty, prioritise lives and livelihoods, and realise human rights for our family," said Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali'i Karanina Sumeo.
The report stresses the economic impacts of COVID-19 are further pushing many working families into poverty, especially single parents, children, Māori and Pacific peoples, ethnic minorities, households with low educational attainment, disabled people and renters.
"Working households already experiencing poverty are among those disproportionately affected by the economic realities of COVID-19. Almost 90 percent of workers who have lost their jobs since March are women," Commissioner Sumeo added.
"Unless there are significant and targeted structural and policy changes in our economic recovery post-pandemic, we will continue to leave our most vulnerable people behind."
Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt said human rights, when applied with Te Tiriti o Waitangi, provide an effective tool to help alleviate poverty as the country responds to the economic crisis.
"Of course, priorities have to be set and tough choices have to be made. But not at the expense of those living in poverty," he said.
The report recommends greater collaboration between tangata whenua (Māori peoples) and the government, within communities, with civil society, and between employers and employees to develop a plan to eradicate poverty and ensure human rights are realised for New Zealanders.
Date: 29 October 2020
- Commissioner Saunoamaali'i Karanina Sumeo - New Zealand Human Rights Commission