For the first time in New Zealand’s history, there are more female lawmakers than male lawmakers. On Tuesday, Soraya Peke-Mason was sworn into Parliament and replaced Trevor Mallard. With the replacement, the Parliament now consists of 60 women and 59 men.
The lawmaker Peke-Mason from the liberal Labour Party replaced the former Speaker Mallord, who had left to become ambassador to Ireland. The resignation of the male lawmaker tipped the balance in Parliament toward women.
Peke-Manson spoke to reporters and said, “Whilst it’s a special day for me, I think it’s historic for New Zealand”.
Women in New Zealand weren't allowed to become Members of Parliament until 1919. Elizabeth McCombs became the first MP in New Zealand in 1933.
New Zealand Women Lawmakers
New Zealand’s latest milestone places it among six nations in the world that this year can claim at least 50 percent female representation in their parliaments. The other nations include Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, United Arab Emirates, and Rwanda.
Globally, about 26 percent of lawmakers are women.
Nicola Willis, the deputy leader of the conservative National Party said, “I’m just really pleased that my daughters are growing up in a country where women being equally represented in public life is just normal”.
Co-leader of the liberal Green Party Marama Davidson summed it up by saying, “About blimmin’ time”.
New Zealand’s current prime minister Jacinda Arden is the nation’s third female leader. Women hold a number of top roles, including the Chief Justice of New Zealand’s Supreme Court and governor-general.
SheThePeople spoke with Meka Whaitiri, New Zealand’s Minister for Food Safety, for Customs and for Veterans, and Associate Minister for Agriculture when she visited India to attend the World Dairy Summit.
Whaitiri said, “In terms of strong women leadership, the face that you have a tribal president (Droupadi Murmo) is absolutely fantastic. From a nation with not only our head of state who’s an indigenous woman, but our Prime Minister is a woman, and we have many woman ministers in our cabinet”.