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Grassroots Campaign Launches To Call For Gender-balanced Cabinet In New Zealand’s 2020 Election Year

A grassroots campaign has launched this week calling on political party leaders to support the implementation of a gender-balanced Cabinet with 50 percent women and 50 percent men in this year’s election.

The many vital issues discussed each week by Cabinet shape all of our lives, as the ministers have significant power to direct and control policy decisions. Yet women make up just 30 percent of New Zealand’s Cabinet. Men continue to have disproportionate power over decisions for the whole country, while women are consistently under-represented.

Led by advocacy group Equal Leadership NZ, with the support of the National Council of Women of New Zealand, the campaign is a voluntary, community-led effort. It launched this week with a public petition which asks party leaders to create a Cabinet made up of at least 50 percent women if they are elected as Prime Minister in the upcoming election.

“Women don’t want to be tokenised or treated as a special interests group, we want an equal say in shaping society and our own lives. It’s an embarrassment to New Zealand’s democracy that just 30 percent of our most senior level of decision-making is made up of women. Women are half the population and that needs to be reflected in our leadership,” said Emma Riach, Campaign Lead for Equal Leadership NZ. 

“We have capable and smart women available to do the job so we can achieve quality without sacrificing equality. We need to deconstruct this system of privilege and bias that gives men disproportionate power, and that means taking proactive steps to lift more Kiwi women into leadership roles.”

The campaign is highlighting the benefits of gender equal representation to political parties and the New Zealand public. By introducing a gender-balanced Cabinet, New Zealand will be following in the footsteps of 14 other countries across the world including Canada, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden. These countries have enjoyed some positive outcomes including:

  • greater commitment, funding, and action on issues like ending gender-based violence and the creation of better family and childcare policies;
  • increased spending on public health;
  • greater levels of confidence in government;
  • more girls and young women engaging in politics because they have more visible role-models.

It’s time for New Zealand to take affirmative action to overcome structural barriers and make sure unconscious gender biases aren’t coming into play when deciding our Cabinet Ministers. Members of the public wanting to support this campaign for a gender-balanced Cabinet can visit the website to sign the petition.

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