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Treat Her Right campaign launches

Shoulder shimmies, jazz hands and Beyonce moments unite in a unique campaign for Equal Pay.

Launching today (15 February 2017), a campaign culminating on International Women’s Day 8 March, brings together the women of New Zealand to stand up and tell the government it’s time to ‘Treat Her Right’.

The online video campaign was directed by Loren Taylor (Eagle vs Shark) and shot by 2016 New Zealand Cinematographer of the year Ginny Loane (pictured, top) (Mahana). It features a range of Kiwi comedians, personalities and members of the public in a humorous yet powerful remake of the Donna Summer video and song She Works Hard for the Money.

The campaign is designed to raise awareness among New Zealanders about the issue and relevance of equal pay for work of equal value. On average, women are paid $7 an hour less than men* for comparable work. Based on current figures, it will take women 45 years to catch up and close the 13% gap.

A call was put out for women of all ages and employment to come and join in a massive dance scene for the video. Shot in Auckland one week before Christmas over 400 women responded to the call with many travelling from Hamilton, Wellington and Whakatane to join the throng.

A range of New Zealand celebrities also donated their time and their best dance moves to the project.

Director Loren Taylor, “We were literally overwhelmed by the generosity and the willingness of people approached to bring their time, their resources and their energy to the project. For the big dance scene we had embalmers dancing alongside teachers, bakers, construction workers, lawyers, mothers, artists, politicians. It was a real celebration and an opportunity for those with the time and resources to highlight an issue which affects all women, particularly those who are often struggling between two or three jobs so don’t have time or energy to fight for equal pay rates.”

Comedian Alice Brine was part of a group of personalities including actors Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Miriama McDowell (Mahana, Dark Horse, Outrageous Fortune), Dave Fane (Gary of the Pacific, Bro’ Town, Sione’s Wedding), Laura Hill (Westfield, Shortland St), Luciane Buchanan (Filthy Rich), Jackie Van Beek (Funny Girls) who donated their time to the project.

Alice Brine says “New Zealand used to be a progressive country in this area and we’re banking on that branding. But you can’t just rely on Kate Sheppard forever. You actually have to look at the data. It’s pretty shocking. We need to live up to our standard of being the ‘progressive’ country we once were.”

Miriama McDowell, who plays the ‘everywoman’: the cleaner, the childcare worker, the aged care worker in the campaign says, “I felt like I’m playing every woman who has ever been underpaid. In every scene I shot I thought of a different person who I know who isn’t valued for the work they do. My sister, my friends, my aunty, my Nana, all of the people through the generations are who we’re doing this for. We’re speaking for them and it’s a real honour.

The video is a rallying cry for people to realise the Equal Pay Act passed in 1972 affects the lives and work of 52% of New Zealand’s population, the women.

The Treat Her Right campaign is a New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Campaign.