Last week the Green Party decided, in their infinite wisdom, that because I am a woman I couldn’t possibly be capable of earning a place in cabinet on my own merit. I feel so lucky to have a big strong man like James Shaw there to look out for me, and make sure that we can point to a Greens Cabinet and say we are doing well as a country because half of them are women.
Controversially, I prefer that we can point to our Cabinet and be proud of the hard-working, qualified men and women who are working to make New Zealand the best it can be. That the Ministers running our country are chosen on their merits and experience, rather than whether or not they have a penis. That we judge them based on the results they produce rather than their gender.
To have a man say that we need a gender quota to achieve an even gender split in Cabinet is condescending and insulting. I am confident that we will have increasing numbers of female Ministers, but it won’t be because we have been gifted these spots by men. It will be because we have plenty of driven, qualified women in Parliament, and beyond, who are perfectly capable of beating a man for a position.
Under our human rights law, I have the same protection as every other person. The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, amongst other things. I do not need my hand held, to get to achieve the same things as a man achieves. Gender quotas only encourage the outdated perception that women are less valuable employees than men. If we want to reduce the gender pay gap, encouraging this perception is not the way to do it. The women we have in Cabinet today have proven that they are every bit as hard-working and skilled as the men in Cabinet – and they didn’t need a gender quota to get there.
James Shaw, I don’t need your condescension or your hand-outs. I am a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need a man to save me a spot in Cabinet, or anywhere else – I’d rather earn it for myself.
Katy is the Vice-President of NZ Young Nationals.