New Zealand cabinet reaches gender equality for the first time

New Zealand cabinet ministers sit around a circular desk in parliament

In what can be described as a first, New Zealand will see an equal number of men and women in its cabinet.

This comes after Northland MP Willow-Jean Prime, who is of Māori descent, was promoted as a cabinet minister.

“It is nice to have a cabinet that reflects the New Zealand population,” Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said, calling it a “good milestone to reach”.

The country elected one of the world’s most diverse parliaments in 2020.

It has the highest number of female lawmakers in the OECD, and a number of Māori as well as LGBTQ+ MPs.

From Wednesday, there are 10 women and 10 male members in the cabinet.

The prime minister said the decision to appoint Ms Prime as a cabinet minister was based on a combination of her skills and existing portfolios. Ms Prime holds the conservation and youth ministerial portfolios.

Ms Prime’s promotion also takes Māori representation in New Zealand’s cabinet to a record of six ministers.

Mr Hipkins, who became New Zealand’s prime minister in January, has promoted three women to the top level of government in the past three months.

Ginny Andersen and Barbara Edmonds, both based in New Zealand capital Wellington, entered the cabinet in February.

On Monday, Mr Hipkins also said that there are now more female than male ministers overall – if ministers outside the cabinet are included in the count.

The 2020 general elections saw 58 women elected into New Zealand’s 120-strong house. About one in 10 of the country’s parliamentarians identify as LGBTQ+, while 25 are Māori people.


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