Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

A Parliamentary milestone

5 Comments

For the first time in our history, women Members of Parliament outnumber men. With one vacancy in Parliament (a by-election is due soon) the swearing in of Soraya Peke-Mason yesterday means that there are currently 60 women MPs (Members of Parliament) and 59 men MPs.

Grant Robertson (an openly gay MP) who is Acting Prime Minister while Jacinda Ardern is in Antarctica, stated that It is a significant moment in the democratic representation of New Zealand. “At a time when we have a female prime minister, Governor General and Chief Justice, it is further evidence of the strides that we’re making in gender equality.” Notice that he said strides we are making – in other words there’s still progress to be made.

Aotearoa New Zealand made history in 1893 by becoming the nation to grant universal suffrage regardless of ethnicity, gender or property ownership. Then we progressed at a snail’s pace, with women not being able to be elected to parliament until 1919, and the first woman being successfully elected fourteen years later in 1933. As Ms Peke-Mason said, “Good things take time. No doubt it’s a special day for me but it’s also a historic occasion for Aotearoa New Zealand.”

What is significant is that it’s the left of centre parties where women are better represented. Of the 64 Labour MPs, 37 are women, while 7 of the 10 Green MPs are women. In contrast, the right of centre National party has only 10 women amongst its 33 MPs, and the ACT party does slightly better with 4 of its 10 MPs being women. It’s interesting to note that in the first 23 years of this century, we’ve had a woman Prime Minister for 14 of those years.

As a footnote Aotearoa New Zealand became the first nation to elect an openly trans woman to Parliament in 2005. Following the 2020 general elections, our Parliament became the “queerest” in the world with 12 openly LGBTQI representatives elected – 10% of all MPs sitting in Parliament.

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Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and discovered I am autistic at the age of sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

5 thoughts on “A Parliamentary milestone

  1. That’s really quite a milestone.
    How does this play out in daily lives? In businesses say? Women in important boards or positions of responsibility in big blue chip companies?

    • As I mentioned in the post, we’re making progress. There’s still some way to go. In local government and in the public service, there’s parity between men and women, even in upper management levels. In the more liberal churches woman clergy now outnumber men.

      Women are still more likely to be found in lower paid roles such as in caring, teaching and cleaning jobs, and statistically women on average earn around 9% less than men. In the private sector woman are almost as likely as men to hold lower and middle management jobs, but at top levels of management they are still seriously underrepresented.

      Company boards of directors still tend to have more men than women, but few women are amongst the ranks of managing directors. Having said that, our two largest companies are headed by women. I guess the right of centre political parties reflect the situation of women in the private sector. The National party may have been the first party to have a female leader but historically women have been underrepresented in their candidates for election and even more poorly represented in those in senior political roles.

      When it come to small businesses and startups, women seem to equally represented as men, and perhaps more importantly, new companies started/owned by women are more likely to still be in business five years after being formed than those started by men.

  2. From memory Jenny Shipley was not elected by the country but a coup over Bolger and she lowered the drinking age from 20 to 18 causing more problems for the police than ever. I always had a vote for Winston Peters. I understand Jacinda is probably the first woman or man as a publicly admitted non theist to become Prime Minister of a Western democracy.

    • Oops. I inadvertently made a new comment instead of replying to yours. See comment below.

      In August 2015 I posted an article titled “how religious are you leaders?” that links to a YouTube clip where party leaders were asked if they believed in God or gods. Most did not. Unfortunately the video has since been made private so it’s no longer accessible.

  3. Strictly speaking the public don’t choose the PM, the majority party does. Regardless, Shipley became the leader of the National party and thereby became the first woman Prime Minister.

    Helen Clark and John Key are both atheists. In this century, Bill English was the only openly Christian PM, and he was leader for only 9 months.

    We’ve had many more nontheist leaders including Free Thinkers going back to the 19th century.

    As for Winston, I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him, and I never learnt to throw properly. Did you ever hear him answer a question directly? He has a talent for diverting every question directed at him. He and his party made politics interesting for a while, but personally I’m not sorry that he and New Zealand First are no longer a political force.

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