Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians in New Zealand unite to celebrate 125 years of women’s suffrage and historic milestones in politics 

New Zealand Members of Parliament, both male and female, and from all political parties of the left and right, gathered for a special event on 19 September 2018 to celebrate 125 years of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. The breakfast event was convened by the Co-Chairpersons of the New Zealand group of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP), Louisa Wall, MP and Jo Hayes, MP, and the Deputy Speaker of the New Zealand Parliament, Hon. Anne Tolley, as a poignant start to an important day of celebration and reflection. New Zealand women first achieved the right to vote in 1893.

The CWP New Zealand is part of one of the largest international women’s organisations in the world. Founded in 1989, with a mandate to work towards increasing women’s participation in Parliament, the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians act on gender-related issues, and mainstream gender considerations in the development of policy and legislation. It is a unique forum for women Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum to come together and promote gender equality.

The CWP New Zealand Co-Chairpersons, Louisa Wall, MP and Jo Hayes, MP said: “We were privileged to hear from the first woman Prime Minister of New Zealand, Rt Hon. Dame Jenny Shipley, and Dame Hon. Ann Hercus, the first Minister for Women and the first women to hold the Police ministerial portfolio. All 48 current women Parliamentarians were presented with a symbolic gift commemorating their service in the New Zealand Parliament, along with their unique number representing their place out of the 149 women who have been elected to Parliament in our history.” Past and present New Zealand women MPs were presented with #Suffrage125 brooches in the shape of a camellia, crafted by Whakatane artist Robyn Watchorn. 

“We are heartened that in 2018, 40% of the New Zealand Parliament’s MPs are women; a record for our Parliament, which places us at number 20 in the world for gender equality in Parliaments. We boast a woman Prime Minister, Governor-General, Chief Justice, Deputy Speaker, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and two senior Whips are women, in addition to three Chairs of Select Committees. As we acknowledge all of the strong, pioneering women who have come before us, and reflect on their journeys, we must gather momentum to break inequalities and stereotypes that still hold us back today. Despite how far we have come in 125 years, there is still ground to be broken and this will only happen when women and men from all sides of the political spectrum come together and advocate for change." 
 
A panel discussion was also held at the New Zealand Parliament for #Suffrage125 - please visit the following to view the video: https://www.facebook.com/NZParliament/videos/551222118645738/
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Photo caption: Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians New Zealand celebrate 125 years of women’s suffrage with current New Zealand Prime Minister, Rt Hon. Jacinda Ardern, MP by recreating a modern version of an iconic 1905 photograph of New Zealand's MPs.

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Updated 21st September 2018.

The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) was founded in 1989 to increase the number of female elected representatives in Parliaments and legislatures across the Commonwealth and to ensure that women’s issues are brought to the fore in parliamentary debate and legislation. The network campaigns for gender equality in all spheres. 

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association connects, develops, promotes and supports Parliamentarians and their staff to identify benchmarks of good governance and the implementation of the enduring values of the Commonwealth. The CPA is an international community of around 180 Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures working together to deepen the Commonwealth’s commitment to the highest standards of democratic governance. 
 
For further information about the CPA, please contact:

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
T: +44 (0)20 7799 1460
Email hq.sec@cpahq.org
For media enquiries, please contact communications@cpahq.org