For the first time in the country’s history, New Zealand’s parliament now has more women than men.
It comes after Māori woman politician Soraya Peke-Mason was sworn in as a lawmaker for the Labour Party on Tuesday Oct. 25, replacing outgoing speaker Trevor Mallard.
As there is a vacancy in one spot in the 120-seat parliament, there are now 60 women MPs and 59 male MPs.
In her speech after being sworn in, Peke-Mason called it “a significant historic day for Aotearoa New Zealand.”
“There are many firsts today, Mr. Speaker, first in my swearing in, secondly at the same time, we reached for the very first time in the government, gender equity,” Peke-Mason said in her speech after being sworn in.
She then joked that she might also be the first member of parliament in the Commonwealth to swear allegiance to King Charles III, to the laughter of the other MPs.
New Zealand has now become the sixth country in the world to achieve gender equity in its parliament, following Rwanda, Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates, according to UN Women and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
“It is a significant moment in the democratic representation of New Zealand,” deputy prime minister Grant Robertson said. “At a time when we have a female prime minister, governor general and chief justice, it is further evidence of the strides that we’re making in gender equality.”
New Zealand has a long history in leading the world in gender equality, becoming the first country worldwide to give women the right to vote in 1893.