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New Zealand women lawmakers outnumber men for first time: NPR


New Labor MP Soraya Peke-Mason gestures during her maiden speech in Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, Tuesday, October 25, 2022.

Mark Mitchell/AP


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New Zealand women lawmakers outnumber men for first time: NPR

New Labor MP Soraya Peke-Mason gestures during her maiden speech in Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, Tuesday, October 25, 2022.

Mark Mitchell/AP

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — For the first time in New Zealand’s history, the majority of lawmakers are women.

Soraya Peke-Mason of the Liberal Labor Party was sworn into parliament on Tuesday, replacing former Speaker Trevor Mallard, who left to become ambassador to Ireland. With the resignation of another male lawmaker, he tipped the scales in Parliament to 60 women and 59 men.

“Although it’s a special day for me, I think it’s historic for New Zealand,” Peke-Mason told reporters.

The milestone puts New Zealand among half a dozen nations around the world that can claim at least 50% female representation in their parliaments this year, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Other nations include Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates.

Globally, about 26% of lawmakers are women, according to the union.

New Zealand has a history of strong female representation. In 1893, it became the first nation to allow women to vote. Current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is the country’s third female leader, and women currently hold a number of other high-level positions, including Chief Justice of New Zealand’s Supreme Court and Governor-General.

“I’m really happy that my daughters are growing up in a country where women are equally represented in public life, that’s normal,” said Nicola Willis, deputy leader of the Conservative National Party.

Marama Davidson, co-leader of the Liberal Green Party, was more direct.

“It was time to blimmin,” she told reporters.

Ardern warned that the situation for women in many other countries was precarious.

“As we move forward, it’s like watching so many women go through a rapid setback in progress,” she said.

And achieving gender parity could only be temporary. Opinion polls indicate New Zealand’s Conservative parties, which currently have a lower proportion of women than their Liberal rivals, are poised to make gains in next year’s general election.

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