Neo-liberalism toxic, and a tragedy for women – Dame Anne Salmond


If women have to act like men in order to be leaders, that’s the “ultimate defeat”, according to Dame Anne Salmond.

The writer and anthropologist was the keynote speaker at the Women of Influence Forum 2018 held in Auckland on Tuesday.

She said working environments based on short-term contracts, often poorly paid, where the risks and costs are thrown onto those who actually make institutions and businesses work, and where managers are expected to minimise costs and maximise profits at their expense are now commonplace.

“This is neo-liberal philosophy in action, and I consider it toxic, and a tragedy for women.

Salmond said when young couples try to buy a house and raise a family, they face relatively high fixed costs, with incomes that are often insecure and relatively low.

This was tough on relationships and closely linked with many negative social indicators, she said.

Salmond said workplaces are often set to suit the habits of those who have wives at home, looking after the children and cooking the meals.

“Women may be forced to choose between their deepest dreams and desires – taking care of a sick child, or attending an important meeting.”

Salmond thinks the balance between collective benefit and private gain in New Zealand has tipped far too far in the direction of self-interest.

It shows up in our rates of suicide, family violence and many other negative social indicators she said.

“In a recent study based on interviews with 1000 young people, for instance, they identified economic insecurity, unaffordable housing, student debt and insecure low paid work as significant contributors to their anxiety and stress.”

She said New Zealand needs to return to more relational ways of thinking, in which the freedoms and responsibilities of men and women are more finely balanced.

Read the whole speech


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