New Zealand has achieved gender equity in its government cabinet for the first time in its history.
The country had elected its most diverse parliament ever under former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in 2020, dramatically increasing the number of female, Maori and LBGTQ+ members. Now it has achieved gender parity at the cabinet decision-making table, the body of senior ministers responsible for the most important policy, legislative and spending decisions.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced on Monday afternoon that the latest cabinet reshuffle will see Conservation Minister MP Willow-Jean Prime enter the cabinet, meaning a 50/50 split of men and women.
“It means we more closely represent the population,” Hipkins said. “I think it’s a good step to take. We have achieved 50/50 representation in parliament in this term, I think that is a very welcome thing, and now we have that around the cabinet table as well.
Hipkins said that, including ministers outside the cabinet, there were now more women in the New Zealand executive than men.
The 2020 general election saw a very diverse executive come to power. Around 10% of members of New Zealand’s elected parliament in 2020 identify as LGBTQ+.
This includes prominent leaders such as Finance Minister Grant Robertson. At the time of the elections, the 120-seat chamber comprised 25 Māori MPs – giving over 20% representation in the chamber, alongside 9% Pasifika and 9% MPs from other ethnicities, including MPs from China, Eritrea, Indian, Iranian, Korean, Maldivian, Mexican and Sri Lankan descent.
Prime, the MP for Northland, also holds portfolios as Minister for Youth and Associate Minister for Health and Arts and Culture. Hipkins said while he was thrilled to see gender parity, it hadn’t been a deciding factor in his selection. “I’m confident she will be a very active collaborator around the cabinet table,” he said.