New Zealand female legislators outnumber men for the first time
For the first time in New Zealand’s history, the majority of legislators are women.
Soraya Peke-Mason from the Liberal Labor Party was sworn in in Parliament on Tuesday, replacing former President Trevor Mallard, who left to become ambassador to Ireland. With the resignation of another male legislator, it has tipped the balance in Congress in favor of 60 women and 59 men.
“Although it’s a special day for me, I think it’s a historic day for New Zealand,” Peke-Mason told reporters.
According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the milestone puts New Zealand on the list of half a dozen countries in the world that this year could claim at least 50% female representation in their parliaments. Other countries include Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates.
According to the coalition, globally, about 26% of lawmakers are women.
New Zealand has a history of representing strong women. In 1893, it became the first country to allow women to vote. Incumbent Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is the nation’s third female leader and women now also hold a number of other top roles including chief justice of New Zealand’s Supreme Court and governor-general.
Nicola Willis, deputy leader of the conservative National Party, said: “I am really pleased that my daughters have grown up in a country where it is normal for women to be equally represented in public life.
Marama Davidson, co-leader of the liberal Green Party, is more blunt.
She told reporters: “About the time of the holy festival”.
Ardern warns that the situation for women in many other countries is precarious. “
As we move forward, it feels as if we’re witnessing a lot of women going through a rapid slide back,” she said.
And achieving gender equality may be temporary. Opinion polls indicate that New Zealand’s conservative parties, which currently have a lower proportion of women than their liberal rivals, are poised to gain ground in next year’s general election.