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Suffrage Day, record number of women MPs

Suffrage Day marked with record number of women MPs

New Zealand celebrates Suffrage Day today (19 September) with women making up a third of its new parliament – the highest proportion ever.

Electoral Commission chief executive Dr Helena Catt says the election night result produced a parliament with 16 women in electorate seats and 24 women drawn from party lists. Women were 29.4% of the last parliament at swearing-in and 30.8% of the parliament elected in 1999.

“On election night results every caucus has at least one woman except Jim Anderton’s Progressive. Labour has the highest number of women with 19, while the Greens have the highest proportion with four women among its six MPs,” says Dr Catt.

“The number of women in parliament may decrease with the final result. The last MP off the Labour list is a woman as are the last two off National’s list, so a decrease in the number of MPs for either party would decrease the number of women unless NZ First gained a seat. New Zealand First and National are the only parties with a woman as the top unelected candidate on their list.

“In world ranking, New Zealand moves from 21st to 15th place for the proportion of women MPs - now equal with South Africa and the last German parliament,” says Dr Catt.

On 19 September 1893 New Zealand became the first country in the world to grant women the right to vote in parliamentary elections, although they could not stand as candidates until 1919.

ENDS

Data on the number of women in parliaments around the world can be found at www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm

Further information on women’s suffrage in New Zealand can be found at www.elections.org.nz/study/history/votes-for-women.html

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