Marilyn Waring, CNZM (born on 7 October 1952 in Ngaruawahia) is a New Zealand feminist, a politician, an activist for "female human rights", an author and an academic. She holds a Ph.D. in political economy. A member of the conservative New Zealand National Party, she became at 22 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 (she is sometimes said to have precipitated the disastrous (for her party) snap election of that year by threatening to side with the opposition on an important vote). At the time of her election, she was only the fifteenth woman elected as a Member of Parliament in New Zealand. As a member of Parliament, she served as Chair of the Public Expenditures Committee, Senior Government Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and member of the Disarmament and Arms Control Committee.
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. She was a member of the Board of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand from 2005 to 2009.
Waring 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.
Her 1988 book Counting for Nothing, later retitled If Women Counted, is considered a classic of feminist economics. A feminist analysis of modern economics, the book argues that mainstream economics ignores women's unpaid work.
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.
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 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, Robert 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 inequaties of globalization and the misery it causes in countries like India or China. She also gives conferences to high schools. She would applaud recent uprisals of anti-globalization demonstrations in Latin America.
In 1973, Waring received an Honours BA in political science and international politics from Victoria University of Wellington.
Political career (1975-1984)
In 1975 general election, she became the New Zealand National Party member of Parliament for the Raglan electorate. 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 Expenditures 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.
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, though she 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 this meant 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.
It has been disputed whether Muldoon's assessment of the situation was accurate.
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 Counting for Nothing, that was subsequently published by Macmillan as If Women Counted.
In 1989 Waring gained a Ph.D. in Political Economy from University of Waikato, 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, Professor Marilyn Waring was appointed to 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.
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.
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 etc. ISBN 0868615625
Waring, Marilyn. Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women are Worth, originally published 1988, republished several times under its original title and under its Macmillan title If Women Counted. This feminist analysis of modern economics reveals how economic theory automatically excludes women's housework, caring of the young, sick and the old from value of people. Waring later produced a documentary on the same topic, Who's Counting.
Waring, Marilyn. If Women Counted, Macmillan (1989, London).
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