Thursday, October 15, 2015

A commitment to equality

One of the problems with New Zealand politics is its inequality. Less than a third of MPs are women - and that proportion has actually dropped over the past few elections thanks to poor selection practices by the major parties. This inequality is reflected around the Cabinet table - only 30% of Ministers are women. And this sends a message to wider society: that inequality is normal and justified. After all, if government does it, it can't be bad, right?

Today, the Greens committed to changing that:

The Green Party is today announcing that, in Government, it will ensure half of all Green Cabinet Ministers are women, and will call on other members of any coalition Government it is involved in to do the same.

Green Party Co-leader James Shaw announced to the CTU conference in Wellington today that the Green Party would put gender equality at the heart of any Government it is involved in, starting with equal representation in Cabinet.

“Our hope is that by leading by example, and ensuring gender equality at the Cabinet table, the Green Party can stimulate and support a wave of gender equity reforms for women who work,” Mr Shaw said.

Its a good, principled move, in keeping with their values and nature as a modern party. Its also easy for the Greens - thanks to equal selections, 50% of their MPs are women (a proportion which will rise to 57% when Russel Norman retires, because Marama Davidson is next on the list), and they have no shortage of talented women to take those roles. And it issues a clear challenge to Labour to clean out some of its stale, male dead wood.

Meanwhile, this is being called a "man-ban" by some parts of the media, and no doubt we'll hear the term from the National Party as well. But nobody is being "banned"; instead the Greens are saying that they want Cabinet to look like New Zealand, just like their party caucus and leadership team does. The fact that some people still think that that is a Bad Thing tells us a great deal about them, their dedication to preserving unearned privilege, and their lack of commitment to modern values of equality and non-discrimination.