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Ministry urges women to stand in local elections

MEDIA RELEASE
23 July 2004

Ministry urges women to stand in local body elections

The Ministry of Women’s Affairs is urging more women to stand in this year’s local body and district health board elections. Nominations for the elections opened today and the elections will be held on 9 October.

“More than 110 years after New Zealand women became the first in the world to vote, women are still under-represented in local government,” said Ministry of Women’s Affairs Chief Executive Shenagh Gleisner.

“A survey conducted by Local Government New Zealand after the last local body elections in 2001 shows that about 27% of city, district and regional councillors are currently women. This is actually a drop from the 1998 result when women made up about 29% of members.”

“Despite some high profile women mayors, such as Sukhi Turner in Dunedin and Kerry Prendergast in Wellington, the percentage of women mayors and chairs in local government is even less – about 16%.”

Ms Gleisner urged women to consider standing, and to exercise their right to vote.

Mäori women and younger women are particularly under-represented she said, with only 5.5% of women members being Mäori and only two women members (less than 1%) under 30 years old.

On the other hand, the occupations listed by current women members showed a wide range of backgrounds including students, teachers, lawyers, hair dressers, farmers, secretaries and retired people.

“There must be thousands of women who have thought about standing for local government, but have not yet done so. Now is the chance to give it a go.”

Note: The elected members’ survey was returned by 940 members out of the 1084 councillors on New Zealand’s territorial local authorities (87%). The figures do not include elected members of district health boards.

ENDS

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