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Minister to model womens' representation in parl't

20 April 2006 Media Statement

Minister to model womens' representation in parliament

Inspiring more Pacific women to get involved in government and key leadership roles will see New Zealand's youngest female Cabinet Minister address a United Nations workshop today on her experiences.

Tainui MP Hon. Nanaia Mahuta is attending the Pacific Regional Workshop for Advancing Women's Representation in Parliaments in Rarotonga from 19-21 April, as part of the New Zealand government's commitment to addressing gender inequalities and fostering leadership and partnerships with other nations.

"This is an excellent opportunity to meet other women parliamentarians across the Pacific, and to share our experiences and vision for social and economic development," Ms Mahuta said.

Parliamentarians from French Polynesia, Tonga and Bougainville are among those attending the workshop, organised by the Women's Bureau of the South Pacific, the United Nations (UN) Development Fund for Women, the UN Pacific Sub-Regional Centre, and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

The primary purpose of the workshop is discussing strategies to boost the current low representation of women in national parliaments among pacific nations, removing barriers to participation, and strengthening relationships with New Zealand's neighbours as part of its foreign policy priorities.

"It is widely recognised that across the Pacific, women remain severely under-represented in parliaments and decision-making bodies, and this workshop is an ideal forum for addressing this issue," Ms Mahuta said.

"The legacy of New Zealand women's representation in parliament and decision-making is a proud one, starting with Kate Sheppard, who successfully strove to make New Zealand women the first in the world to receive the vote, up to the present day, where we have 39 female MP's and women in various key leadership roles.

"I hope to encourage more women in the Pacific – especially young women – to get involved in key decision-making and leadership roles. Also, the projected growth of the Pacific community here in New Zealand makes it even more important that this diversity is reflected in the composition of our own parliament."

ENDS

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