Local Government New Zealand today confirmed what many local election commentators have observed; that more of the voting public cast their ballots in favour of women candidates than ever before.
Women now make up over 42% of all local government elected members, above the percentage of women board directors in New Zealand’s private sector (24%) as well as the number of women in Parliament as at the most recent election (38%).
“Looking at the candidate lists ahead of the election, we suspected that there would be an increase in the number of women holding local office, and that has been confirmed today,” says LGNZ President Dave Cull.
“Across New Zealand women play a vital role in every facet of our society, be it social, business, or cultural, and the local election results show that they see councils as an important channel through which they can meaningfully influence the well-being of their communities.”
“LGNZ is extremely pleased to see an increase in women representatives – it debunks the narrative out there that councils are the sole preserve of the pale, male and stale.”
Auckland’s local boards feature the highest representation ratio, with women making up 51% of the membership, followed by community boards nationally at 46%.
The level of gender diversity on local councils is a sign of real progress, given that in 2010 the percentage of women elected members was 30%. In addition to the increase of women mayors, from 13 to 20, the percentage of women councillors now stands at 40%.
“We’re proud to have strengthened the diversity of the sector in this election, but we recognise that there’s still a lot of work to do in this area, as well as in getting greater youth and ethnic representation around the council table.”
“This is not a politically correct nice to have, but key to robust decision-making that promotes greater well-being among New Zealand’s diverse communities.”
A number of councils and boards now feature at least an equal share of men and women around the table, such as the Wellington and Nelson city councils. Seven of the eight Tararua District Council members are women and the Twizel community board is comprised entirely of women.
“More people are realising that local government is where you can have the most direct impact on your community, and that’s resulted in more candidates standing, and more diverse representation, which is great to see,” concluded Mr Cull.