Marilyn Waring

Marilyn Waring
Marilyn Waring
Marilyn Waring as chair of the Public Expenditure Committee in 1978
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Raglan
In office
1975 – 1978
Preceded by Douglas Carter
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Waipa
In office
1978 – 1984
Succeeded by Katherine O'Regan
Chair of the Public Expenditure Committee
In office
Board member of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand
In office
Personal details
Born 7 October 1952 (1952-10-07) (age 59)
Ngaruawahia, Waikato
Political party National
Committees Chair of the Public Expenditure Committee, Senior Government Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and member of the Disarmament and Arms Control Committee

Marilyn Waring, CNZM (born on 7 October 1952 in Ngaruawahia) is a New Zealand feminist, a politician, an activist for female human rights and environmental issues, an author and an academic, known for her contributions to feminist economics.

A member of the conservative New Zealand National Party, she became at 23 the youngest member of the New Zealand Parliament in 1975, for Raglan. In 1978 she became the MP for Waipa, and remained in the House of Representatives until 1984. 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. Waring precipitated the New Zealand general election, 1984 by threatening to vote for the opposition-sponsored nuclear-free New Zealand legislation, leading Prime Minister Robert Muldoon to call a snap election, stating that Waring's "feminist anti-nuclear stance" threatened his ability to govern.[1]

Waring holds a D.Phil. in political economy (1989).[2] Her 1988 book If Women Counted is considered a classic of feminist economics.[3] A feminist analysis of modern economics, the book argues that mainstream economics ignores women's unpaid work. Waring also argues that global economics does not account for the value of nature.

Since 2006, Marilyn Waring has been a Professor of Public Policy at the Institute of Public Policy at AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand. 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 Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women), the Yukon Territorial Government, the Ford Foundation, and the Ontario Provincial Government.

Waring became a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2008 New Year's Honours List, for her services to women and economics.[4] 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.[5] She was awarded an honorary D.Litt. in 2011.[6]



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 became well-known in Canada following a 1995 National Film Board of Canada video documentary on her work, Who's Counting: Sex, Lies and Global Economics.

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'.[3][7]

Waring speaks publicly on gay and lesbian rights, most recently in support of same-sex marriages.[8] The New Zealand Truth tabloid newspaper "outed" her as a lesbian in 1976.[9] She refused to comment at the time[10] and the Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, moved swiftly to minimize publicity and protect her, the general attitude among politicians being that it was a private matter.[11] 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.[12]

She teaches on the inequities of globalization and the misery it causes in countries like India or China. She also gives conferences to high schools.


Early life

In 1973, Waring received an Honours BA in political science and international politics from Victoria University of Wellington.

Political career (1975-1984)

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
1975–1978 National
1978–1981 39th Waipa National
1981–1984 40th Waipa National

In the 1975 general election, she became the New Zealand National Party member of Parliament for the Raglan electorate.[13] 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 Rob 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,

Waring recalled that she 'just fell off my chair' when Muldoon, without any prior consultation, announced at caucus that she would be chairperson of the very influential Public Expenditure Committee. This was a major position for an MP of only three years' experience and even more so in light of Waring's youth and controversial first term. Muldoon, however, knew that Waring had similar views and values on the economy to his own and that she had the intellectual capacity and drive to cope with complex investigation and analysis. He was also well aware that she would not be intimidated by ministers or senior officials.[14]

Waring had come especially to disagree with the National Party policy over the issue of a nuclear-free New Zealand and, in mid-1984, she informed the leadership that she would no longer support the party line but would continue to vote for it on confidence and other issues (except a couple of other issues). 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.

Muldoon decided in haste to call a snap election (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.[15]

It has been disputed whether Muldoon's assessment of the situation was accurate.

Academic life

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.

In 1989 Waring gained a D.Phil. in Political Economy from the University of Waikato with a dissertation on the United Nations System of National Accounts,[2][16] and in 1990 a University of Waikato Research Council grant to continue work on "female human rights."

Between 1991 and 1994, Marilyn 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, Marilyn Waring was appointed Professor of Public Policy at the Institute for Public Policy (IPP) at AUT University.

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.[17]


In between her academic and activist engagements, Waring farmed angora goats and dry stock on her hill-farm north of Auckland. She organised her farm for maximum simplicity and self-sufficiency. She left the farm to become a city dweller on turning 50.

Awards and recognitions

  • 2011 Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) honoris causa, Glasgow Caledonian University, for her "outstanding international contribution towards the understanding of feminism and female human rights"[6]
  • 2008 Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for her "services to women and economics"
  • 2000 The College of Nurses (Aotearoa) announce an annual award for graduate study called the Marilyn Waring Scholarship
  • 1995 Hiroshima Day: Special Award of NZ Foundation for Peace Studies for Peacework
  • 1993 Suffrage Centenary Medal
  • 1990 Commemorative Medal
  • 1977 Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal

Selected works

  • Waring, Marilyn. Women, Politics, and Power: Essays, Unwin Paperbacks-Port Nicholson Press (1984). Issues on women in Parliament, apartheid and New Zealand sport, Nuclear Free New Zealand. ISBN 0868615625
  • Waring, Marilyn. If Women Counted: A New Feminist Economics, Harper & Row (1988), republished by MacmillanAllen & Unwin and University of Toronto Press several times under its original title and as Counting for Nothing
  • Waring, Marilyn. Three Masquerades: Essays on Equality, Work and Hu(man) Rights, Auckland: Auckland University Press with Bridget Williams Books (1996) ISBN 0-8020-8076-6. Three Masquerades includes references to Waring's years in Parliament, which she describes as "an experience of counterfeit equality". It also looks at her experiences with farming and with the development field, where she was "daily confronted with the travesty of excluding women's unpaid work from the policy-making process".
  • Waring, Marilyn. In the Lifetime of a Goat: Writings 1984–2000, Bridget Williams Books (April, 2004) ISBN 1-877242-09-8
  • Waring, Marilyn. 1 Way 2 C the World: Writings 1984–2006, University of Toronto Press (2011)


  • Who's Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics (1995). Directed by Terre Nash and produced by the National Film Board of Canada. The film can be viewed at



See also


  1. ^ "Marilyn Waring appointed to position at AUT". Scoop. 31 May 2006. Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Marilyn Waring joins AUT". Inside AUT. July 2006. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Bjørnholt, Margunn (2010). "Waring, Marilyn". In Andrea O'Reilly. Encyclopedia of Motherhood. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. pp. 1260–1261. ISBN 978-1412968461. 
  4. ^ "New Year honour for Marilyn Waring". 31 December 2007. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  5. ^ "Who's Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics". National Film Board of Canada . Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Professor awarded with Honorary Degree from Scotland". Auckland University of Technology. May 24th, 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2010. 
  7. ^ Fischlin, Daniel; Nandorfy, Martha (2007). The Concise Guide to Global Human Rights. Black Rose Books. ISBN 978-1551642949. 
  8. ^ Duder, Karen (2001). "Waring, Marilyn". In Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon. Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History: From World War II to the Present. London: Routledge. p. 433. ISBN 0-415-29161-5. 
  9. ^ Gianoulis, Tina (2006). "Waring, Marilyn". In Claude J. Summers. glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. 
  10. ^ Young, Hugh (2002). "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender New Zealand History. Part 2". Queer History New Zealand. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  11. ^ Gustafson, Barry (2000). His Way: A Biography of Robert Muldoon. Auckland: Auckland University Press. p. 196. ISBN 978-1869402433. 
  12. ^ Young, Hugh (2002). "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender New Zealand History. Part 4". Queer History New Zealand. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  13. ^ McCallum, Janet (1993). Women in the House - Members of Parliament in New Zealand. Wellington: Cape Catley. ISBN 0-908561-41-5. 
  14. ^ Gustafson, Barry (2000). His Way: A Biography of Robert Muldoon. Auckland: Auckland University Press. p. 264. ISBN 978-1869402433. 
  15. ^ Waring interviewed by Gustafson, 24 Feb. 1993, cited Gustafson, His Way p. 370 n. 33 and n. 38.
  16. ^ "Marilyn Waring biography". Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  17. ^ "Rebel voice of the world". Inside AUT. March 2007. Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  18. ^ "Marilyn Waring - Working Class Hero". Discogs. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 

External links

Parliament of New Zealand
Preceded by
Douglas Carter
Member of Parliament for Raglan
Constituency abolished, recreated in 1984
Title next held by
Simon Upton
Constituency recreated after abolition in 1969
Title last held by
Sir Leslie Munro
Member of Parliament for Waipa
Succeeded by
Katherine O'Regan
Preceded by
Chair of the Public Expenditure Committee
Succeeded by

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