5 Nov 2016

Gender-balanced parliament would bring 'a great dynamic'

6:29 pm on 5 November 2016

Parliament needs to seriously look at introducing a gender quota system to get more women in the house, says the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue speaks to Checkpoint with John Campbell.

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue Photo: RNZ

Jackie Blue says the number of women in parliament has not changed since the first MMP election in 1996, and had hovered around the 30 percent mark ever since.

Ms Blue said the issue of gender equality in Parliament was getting "nowhere fast", and something needed to be done.

But she said a quota did not mean inferior women would be selected, and people who said it would ruin the importance of doing a job on merit had got it wrong.

"I strongly disagree with comments like that. Even some women say they wouldn't want to be appointed through a quota and only merit, but people that make those comments fail to recognize the serious gender bias at play.

"They need to ask themselves who's definition of merit are they using and what merit is," Ms Blue said.

She said every women MP that made it to parliament was more than capable at being a confident minister, because they had been right up against it to get there in the first place.

Ms Blue said this proved female MPs were resilient and tough.

"There's so much evidence and research that shows a gender balanced board is good for business. A gender-balanced cabinet and parliament would be great for the country it would bring a great dynamic," Ms Blue said.

She said political parties should look at their decision processes around selecting candidates and women MPs.

"The top 20 members in the Green Party have to be 40 percent minimum representation of either sex, they have a democratic way of bringing women through, and other parties should follow suit."

She said the National Party was okay, with seven women out of 20 Members of Parliament women, but she said leader John Key just needed to select three more to have gender balance.

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