Achieving pay equity: strategic mobilization for substantive equality in Aotearoa New Zealand

Judy McGregor, Sharyn Graham Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In an unprecedented move the New Zealand Government in 2017 announced a $2 billion pay equity settlement for 55,000 healthcare workers in aged and disability residential care and home and community support services. The settlement reversed the Government's previous austerity stance that pay equity for carers was too expensive, and that pay parity in the sector was out of the question. The political concession followed five years of intensive equal pay feminist activism. While pay equity settlements overseas have generally used either legal opportunity structures or government intervention, this article argues it was the combination of complementary and intersecting elements of mobilization that led to the negotiated settlement. These elements include a statutory human rights inquiry; legal opportunity; civil society coalition building; increased women's voice; and a government-led negotiated settlement. The novel theoretical contribution of this article is its empirical support for the concept of substantive equality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-632
Number of pages14
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • legal opportunity
  • mobilization
  • pay equity
  • substantive equality
  • women's voice

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