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Women hold up a quarter of the sky

Women hold up a quarter of the sky

Liz Gordon

Annoyed campaigner for more women MPs.

There is an old saying that women hold up half the sky. So what are we to make of the ‘modern’ National Party’s 2011 list? Some facts for you:

• The list has 75 places, and 24 of these are allocated to women.

• Only ten women are allocated places in the top 40, while 14 women are in places 41-75.

• Most of these (9 out of 14) are in places 61-75 and have no hope of election this year.

• National will probably enter the next parliament with a smaller proportion of women MPs than in 2008.

• Even National’s own leader has protested against this state of affairs!

MMP brought about a large increase in the representation of women in Parliament. This was expected. Lists are issued months in advance and people have the opportunity to examine them.

What was not expected was that, fifteen years after MMP, one of the two pivotal parties in the Parliament would still only manage a grudging quarter of its list to be allocated to women.

I have heard it said that we want people selected on talent, not gender. But any scrutiny of the National Party list will demonstrate that it is not a result of a talent quest, but of highly conservative, status quo, bloke politics.

To give three examples.

Shane Ardern has been in Parliament since 1996 and is known only for trying to drive a tractor up the steps. He is number 27 on the list. Rising star Amy Adams is 28. Go figure.

What about Eric Roy, veteran person, at 25, compared with Nicky Wagner, who has done so much to help the citizens of Christchurch in the wake of the earthquakes, at 42.

Michael Woodhouse (31) (I had never heard of him) or Nikki Kaye (33), the high-profile Auckland Central MP?

John Key was all over the radio this morning saying that he wanted more women MPs. He could not have wanted them enough, in my view. It has always appeared to me that what John wants, John gets. His wanting is therefore a cop-out – he should have demanded more women on the National list.


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