Thursday, September 19, 2013

Suffrage Day

Today, September 19, is Suffrage Day. 120 years ago, in 1893, women won the right to vote in New Zealand. But while we've had female Prime Ministers, female Supreme Court judges, and female Governers-General, women are still a long way from being politically equal. Thanks to discriminatory selection processes, only a third of our MPs and a quarter of our cabinet are women. As for how female politicians are viewed, I think yesterday's repulsive Evans cartoon speaks for itself.

This political under-representation has consequences: it means that Parliament and the government do not take the rights of women seriously. Which is why we have rape crisis centres being systematically defunded, why paid parental leave and childcare are not priorities, and why they're threatening to intervene to stomp on any efforts to win equal pay.

If we want the promise of Suffrage Day to be realised, we need an equal Parliament - which means ending the practice of political parties making sexist selection decisions. The Greens are there already, and Labour was making some promising steps. The problem here is National. They need to stop dragging their feet (and their knuckles) and drag themselves into the 21st century.