It’s time to drop the Motherhood Penalty

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AUCKLAND, Today: Saatchi & Saatchi and Global Women New Zealand have released their 2021 campaign for International Women’s Day (today!), highlighting the ‘Motherhood Penalty’ and the startling fact that on average, mothers earn 12.5% less than fathers of the same age and education over the course of their career. 

Global Women ceo Agnes Naera said: “The campaign was created by Saatchi, with internationally awarded Swedish director Anna Mantzaris of Passion Animation Studios UK.

“It builds on the humorous workplace scenarios Mantzaris conceived for her critically acclaimed short film Enough and suggests that there is almost nothing a woman could do in the workplace that is more career limiting than having a baby.  

“This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #Choosetochallenge and with this campaign we hope to challenge and raise awareness of the Motherhood Penalty that still has a significant impact on women in the workplace in New Zealand.

“Like many issues of inequity, there isn’t a single action that can be taken to solve this, as the penalty is made up of a combination of factors, often built up over many years.

“On one side, we need to tackle the unconscious biases that still remain around women with children and on the other, we need to address systems and processes around recruitment, pay and promotion to ensure an equitable playing field.

“We know that how an organisation supports and interacts with women around parenthood is a key moment in a woman’s career trajectory.”

“We are losing too many talented women around this point, so we need to ensure that we are doing everything we can as businesses and society, to keep women in the pipeline so they can move on to leadership and governance roles.

“If women rise, we all rise. Me aro koe ki te hā o Hineahuone.”

“From our own research we have learned that it is critical for women to have relatable role models ahead of them, so that they too can see that a successful career and family are possible and not just for the ‘superwoman’ that for many, just doesn’t feel achievable or sustainable anymore.

“We also identified that normalising parental leave for fathers is incredibly important if we are to start to shift society’s deeply held views on traditional gender roles and responsibilities.

“Finally, it’s important to remember that addressing this issue isn’t just for the benefit of women – this is about creating a better Aotearoa New Zealand for all.

“If women rise, we all rise. Me aro koe ki te hā o Hineahuone (Pay heed to the dignity of women).”

Champions for Change co-chair Justine Smyth said: “As partners of Global Women, ensuring that women are afforded the same benefits as men over the course of their careers, regardless of whether they have children or not, is a key focus for the Champions for Change.

“As a group, we have been addressing this in different ways – from auditing our gender pay gaps, to ensuring flexible working policies, providing paid parental leave, rolling out unconscious bias training and promoting transparency and consistency around pay review processes.”

Mantzaris was one of the directors featured in the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ showcase in Cannes in 2019.

Saatchi NZ CCO Steve Cochran said: “The effort and brilliance from Anna and everyone else who helped make this work was phenomenal.

“I just fell in love with this project as soon as Saatchi & Saatchi got in touch with us.”

“We hope it means the message travels far and wide around the world. We owe her, and everyone else who helped pull this campaign together more gratitude than we can express.

“As a husband and a father, I’ve seen up close the way being a mother can impact a woman’s career and trajectory. And yes, from my position of male privilege, you might say.

“There’s no simple answer. But self-awareness and consciousness of employers is certainly a place to start. I’m able to say that Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand has made this a priority.

We’re also proudly part of Champions for Change, and are committed to impacting change in our business and, as this work sets out to do, across New Zealand.”

Anna Mantzaris said: “I just fell in love with this project as soon as Saatchi & Saatchi got in touch with us.

“It is the most rewarding thing to be able to combine my creativity with a subject that is really close to my heart, so it was an honour to be asked to work on this project.

“It is very sad that the pay gap and the way women, or rather mothers, are being treated by the work environment is still the way it is. I don’t believe that this is something that is happening intentionally but rather a consequence of our culture and failing to see invisible obstacles and discriminations that mothers are constantly being faced with in the work area.

“I think International Women’s Day is a really good opportunity to shine light on inequalities that exists today and even though this should not be the only day we talk about these subjects; it gives a good opportunity to highlight some issues and create a discussion around them.”

The campaign launches today and will run across social, outdoor and digital.


Client: Global Women
Creative Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand
Media Agency: Starcom New Zealand
PR Agency: MSL New Zealand
Production Company: Passion Pictures Londib
Director: Anna Malin Mantzaris
Producer: Becky Perryman
Executive Producer: Belle Palmer
DOP: Donna Wade & Jon Muschamp
Animators: Anna Malin Mantzaris, Mark Waring & Tim Allen
Set & Prop builder: Hetty Bax
Costume Fabricator: Kat Probert & Isabelle Riley
Scenic painter: Roy Bell
Post / VFX: Sara Salcedo
Audio: Liquid Studios – Craig Matuschka
Music licensing: Liquid Studios
Music: Original composition – Peter van der Fluit

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