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Friday, 22 February 2019 06:12 pm

Where are women in politics? Not at Victoria University debate


Representatives of the youth wings wait for the debate to begin. Image: Bronte Wilson

Women. They make up 50% of the population, 31% of New Zealand’s Parliament, and 0% of Victoria University’s Politics Society Youth Wing Debate.

Of the seven representatives at the Youth Wing Debate on Monday night, not one was female.

Even MC Donald Trump noticed.

Trump, (aka comedian Alexander Sparrow) referring to Labour’s plan to make the Government 50% female, that his ideal quota was 49 women to one man, and that all those women would have normal sized teeth.

The joke about Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern’s teeth, however, was a step too far.

Labour representative Mohan Nana-Ahirao called him out on it and received the biggest cheer of the night.

“I think if you wonder why there aren’t more women in politics, it’s this kind of sh*t,” said Mr Nana-Ahirao said of the comment.

He said if women stand up and have a vison and a plan to lead the country, then they should be taken

seriously on that basis, rather than being judged on their looks.

Mr Nana-Ahirao had been given three minutes to respond to a question about Labour’s mental health policy, but used a minute of this time to call out the sexism still present in New Zealand politics.

Alexander Sparrow then offered to reset the clock, saying he respected Mr Nana-Ahirao using his time to limited time to stand up for his values.

Mr Nana-Ahirao declined, saying he had enough time to respond.

At this point, the apologies and excuses about the gender unbalance came thick and fast.

Maori Party representative Elijah Pue addressed the issue in his closing statement, apologising for the lack of female representatives.

Victoria University’s politics society apologised at the end of the evening for the obvious gender unbalance.

They said they did not choose the representatives but admitted there was more they could have done to ensure a more representative panel.

New Zealand First was meant to send a female candidate, but she had to cancel last minute due to illness.

At the VUW POLSCO debate, each candidate had opening and closing statements.

Each was also asked a question which they had three minutes to respond to, before four minutes of open debate on that topic.

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