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CNZM, D.Phil., D.Litt.
Waring in 2012
|Member of the New Zealand Parliament
1975 – 1978
|Preceded by||Douglas Carter|
|Member of the New Zealand Parliament
1978 – 1984
|Succeeded by||Katherine O'Regan|
|Chair of the Public Expenditure Committee|
|Board member of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand|
7 October 1952 |
Marilyn Joy Waring CNZM (born 7 October 1952), is a New Zealand feminist, politician, activist for female human rights and environmental issues, development consultant and United Nations expert, and author and academic, known as a principal founder of the discipline of feminist economics.
She served as a member of the Parliament of New Zealand for the conservative New Zealand National Party, successively representing the constituencies of Raglan and Waipa, between 1975 and 1984. Aged 23, she was the youngest member of parliament at the time of her election. As a member of Parliament, she served as Chair of the Public Expenditure Committee, Senior Government Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and member of the Disarmament and Arms Control Committee. Between 1978 and 1981 she was the sole woman in the government caucus. Waring precipitated the 1984 general election by threatening to vote for the opposition-sponsored nuclear-free New Zealand legislation, leading Prime Minister Rob Muldoon to call a snap election, stating that Waring's "feminist anti-nuclear stance" threatened his ability to govern. The nuclear-free New Zealand legislation was subsequently enacted by the new Labour government, and has been a sacrosanct touchstone of New Zealand foreign policy since.
After leaving parliament, Waring obtained a D.Phil. in political economy (1989). Her 1988 book If Women Counted (originally published with an introduction by Gloria Steinem) is a feminist analysis of modern economics, that argues that women's work and the value of Nature are not taken into account. It "persuaded the United Nations to redefine gross domestic product, inspired new accounting methods in dozens of countries and became the founding document of the discipline of feminist economics."
Since 2006, Waring has been a Professor of Public Policy at the Institute of Public Policy at AUT in Auckland, New Zealand, focusing on governance and public policy, political economy, gender analysis, and human rights. She has held Fellowships at Harvard and Rutgers Universities. Waring was a member of the Board of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand from 2005 to 2009, and has worked as a consultant for organizations such as the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), United Nations Development Programme, Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), and the International Development Research Centre (Ottawa, Canada).
Waring's work was the subject of a 1995 film by Oscar-winning director Terre Nash, titled Who's Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics. She became a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2008 New Year Honours, for her services to women and economics, and was awarded an honorary D.Litt. in 2011. In 2012, she was included on the Wired Magazine Smart List of "50 people who will change the world." An anthology named Counting on Marilyn Waring: New Advances in Feminist Economics was published in 2014, edited by Margunn Bjørnholt and Ailsa McKay and with contributions of a diverse group of scholars on advances made in the field since the publication of If Women Counted.
Waring's recent work has focused on women's work as an issue of international human rights. She has also done activist work on behalf of women imprisoned or denied refugee status because of what she calls "feminist political issues beyond the restricted definitions and practices of international human rights".
She has outspokenly criticised the concept of GDP, the economic measure that became a foundation of the United Nations System of National Accounts (UNSNA) following World War II. She criticises a system which 'counts oil spills and wars as contributors to economic growth, while child-rearing and housekeeping are deemed valueless'.
Waring speaks publicly on gay and lesbian rights, most recently in support of same-sex marriages. The New Zealand Truth tabloid newspaper "outed" her as a lesbian in 1976. She refused to comment at the time and the Prime Minister, Rob Muldoon, moved swiftly to minimize publicity and protect her, the general attitude among politicians being that it was a private matter. Also, Waring's strong pro-choice identification and vocal feminism would overshadow her lesbianism. Since she left Parliament in 1984, Waring has more openly acknowledged her sexual orientation.
She teaches on the inequities of globalization, and gives conferences to high schools.
|New Zealand Parliament|
In the 1975 general election, she became the New Zealand National Party member of Parliament for the Raglan electorate. Her great grandfather, Harry (Arthur Henry) Waring, had contested the Raglan seat for the forerunner of National, the Reform Party, in 1927.
Together with Colleen Dewe, at the time of their election, they were only the fourteenth and fifteenth women elected as a Member of Parliament in New Zealand. She was only one of two women in the government caucus and only one of four women elected in the 1975 election. After the 1978 election she was the sole female government MP, until Ruth Richardson was elected at the 1981 election.
She fell out with Prime Minister Robert Muldoon almost immediately, and there were several episodes of conflict, although they also shared views on some issues such as welfare payments to single mothers, where Muldoon was a believer in the welfare state.
During her period in Parliament, she served as Chair of the Public Expenditure Committee, Senior Government Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and on the Disarmament and Arms Control Committee. The appointment to the Public Expenditure Committee after the 1978 election was a considerable achievement for a member of only three years' standing. According to Barry Gustafson,
She also served on the Select committee for Violent Offending, taking a particular interest in the Aroha Trust, formed by Black Power women. As a Member of Parliament, she was also the New Zealand Observer at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and chaired the New Zealand Delegation to the OECD Conference on the Role of Women in the Economy in 1978.
Waring had come especially to disagree with the National Party policy over the issue of a nuclear-free New Zealand and, on 14 June 1984, she informed the leadership that she would vote independently on nuclear issues, disarmament issues, and rape but would continue to support the Government on confidence. Since the National Party had only a one-seat majority, the government would be likely (though not certain) to lose on an issue Muldoon regarded as one of national security.
That evening Muldoon decided to call a snap election to be held on 14 July (a general election was due at the end of the year). The election was a disaster for the National Party. Waring told Muldoon's biographer that she had deliberately sought to provoke Muldoon into this action.
In 1984 Waring left politics and returned to lecturing, where her research has focused on well-being, human rights and on economic factors that influence legislation and aid.
In 1988 she published If Women Counted. The book has also been published as Counting for Nothing, but remains most widely known under the first title. It criticises the use of GDP as a surrogate for "progress," and argues that lacking valuation of women and nature drive decisions in globalisation that have unintended but terrible consequences for the world. According to Julie A. Nelson,
In 1989 Waring gained a D.Phil. in political economy from the University of Waikato with a thesis on the United Nations System of National Accounts, and in 1990 a University of Waikato Research Council grant to continue work on "female human rights."
Between 1991 and 1994, Waring served as Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and the Politics of Human Rights with the Department of Politics at the University of Waikato, New Zealand.
In May 2006, Waring was appointed Professor of Public Policy at the Institute for Public Policy (IPP) at AUT. Her research focuses on governance and public policy, political economy, gender analysis, and human rights.
She was one of 16 prominent intellectuals invited to contribute to a French publication on human rights around the globe in 2007, along with Ken Loach, Maude Barlow, Walden Bello and Susan George.
In 2014, the anthology Counting on Marilyn Waring: New Advances in Feminist Economics, edited by Margunn Bjørnholt and Ailsa McKay, was published. According to Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, the book explores "a wide range of issues—including the fundamental meaning of economic growth and activity to consumption, health care, mortality, unpaid household work, mothering, education, nutrition, equality, and sustainability" and reveals "the breadth, depth, and substance that can grow from innovative ideas and critical analysis." Diane Elson argues that "despite many valiant efforts, women do not as yet really count in the conduct of economic policy. This book is an imaginative contribution to an ongoing struggle."
According to Wired,
She and Ngahuia Te Awekotuku contributed the piece "Foreigners in our own land" to the 1984 anthology Sisterhood Is Global: The International Women's Movement Anthology, edited by Robin Morgan.
Since 1984 and in between her academic and activist engagements, Waring farmed angora goats and dry stock, latterly on her hill-farm north of Auckland. Her experiences of life on the farm, international questions, New Zealand politics, feminist issues, and women of influence, were recorded In the Lifetime of a Goat: Writings 1984-2000; her popular Listener columns Letters to My Sisters from 1984 to 1989, form the basis. She organised her farm for maximum simplicity and self-sufficiency. Waring left the farm to become a city dweller on turning 50.
|New Zealand Parliament|
|Member of Parliament for Raglan
Constituency abolished, recreated in 1984
Title next held bySimon Upton
Constituency recreated after abolition in 1969
Title last held bySir Leslie Munro
|Member of Parliament for Waipa
||Chair of the Public Expenditure Committee