The Supreme Court has sat a majority of women on the bench for the first time in New Zealand’s history.
On Tuesday, three women and two men made up the full bench of the country’s highest court, putting New Zealand ahead of comparable countries in terms of gender equality at the highest level of the judiciary.
The New Zealand Law Society said the recent retirement of Justice Terence Arnold from the six permanent court members meant the court was now made up of Chief Justice Sian Elias, Justice Susan Glazebrook, Justice Ellen France, Justice William Young and Justice Mark O’Regan.
New Zealand Law Society president Kathryn Beck said the sitting was an important milestone in New Zealand legal history.
“It is 120 years since New Zealand’s first woman lawyer, Ethel Benjamin, was admitted as a barrister and solicitor.
“Our highest court now has a majority of women, and that is something to celebrate in the move towards a justice system and legal profession where there is gender equality.”
We may be the only country in the world where women make up a majority of the highest court. The percentages in other countries are Australia 43%, Canada 44%, US 33%, UK 9%.