A majority of the lawmakers are women for the first time in New Zealand’s history. Soraya Peke-Mason from the liberal Labour Party was officially sworn into Parliament on Tuesday, November 1st, in place of former Speaker Trevor Mallard, who left to become an ambassador to Ireland. With the resignation of yet another male lawmaker, it has overturned the balance in Parliament to 60 women and 59 men. “While it’s a special day for me, I think it’s historic for New Zealand,” Peke-Mason told reporters.
The milestone has placed New Zealand among a half-dozen nations in the world this year that can claim at least 50% female representation in their parliaments, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Other countries include Rwanda, Cuba, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, and Nicaragua. According to the union, about 26% of lawmakers are women. New Zealand has a history of strong female representation, and in 1893, it became the first nation to allow women to vote.
Current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is the nation’s third female leader. Women currently hold several other top roles, including the Governor-General and the Chief Justice of New Zealand’s Supreme Court. “I’m just really pleased that my daughters are growing up in a country where women being equally represented in public life is normal,” said the Deputy Leader of the conservative National Party, Nicola Willis.