First Women

New Hope: The ‘First Women,’ of New Zealand and America’s history

I was going to write a piece on ‘do you care about the election’ whether Donald Trump stays or goes, but that topic is history as Trump is gone burgers and good riddance I say.

Today Jo Biden took the victory and became the 46th president of the United States. Along with the worldwide relief and the clear majority of support from American voters, came another triumph. Having Kamala Harris make history in becoming the first woman vice president, the first black vice president and the first Asian vice president in America. 

Things are looking up.

It really is a 180 degree turn around, from the presidency of Trump to the presidency of Jo Biden. Trump has represented sexism and racism, while Biden has chosen his vice president to represent woman, woman of colour as well as people of colour.

The fact that Harris had a mother that emigrated from India and a Jamaican immigrant father is another accomplishment. This is another reason that advocacy in gender and racial justice can be upheld in the future.

Trump incited racism and an awful feeling to one another. Let us hope that this new government can heal the wounds and anguish, fear and upset that Trump has left as part of his presidency.

This year has proven uneasy and unsettled to say the least, with Covid-19 having caused national lockdowns globally, social distancing and staying inside our own bubbles. In July we saw an explosion of racial tension come to ahead. The black lives matter movement went to the front of people’s attention when black man Eric Garner was murdered by white police officer Daniel Pantaleo. Pantaleo put Garner into a prohibited chokehold and ignored Garner calling out that he couldn’t breathe. The result of Garner’s death and the failure for Pantaleo to be indited by a grand jury afterwards had America up in arms, and rightly so.

Let us hope that the new government can bring healing and justice, which is necessary, so this kind of atrocity doesn’t keep happening.

Here in New Zealand with Labour reclaiming parliament. Jacinda Ardern has chosen the new cabinet members to have Maori representation and Woman representation as well as having an openly gay deputy prime minister.

With Nanaia Mahuta becoming the first Maori woman in the role of Foreign Affairs Minister, as well as a diverse cabinet parliament with five new Maori ministers making up 25 per cent of the cabinet, this is again one for the history books. Here in New Zealand, we can be proud and hopeful of the representation that the new parliament will bring to the country.

Mahuta has said how New Zealand was the first country to give women the right to vote and that she is proud to be following in the legacy of ‘first women.’ She is hopeful of lifting the ceiling for other women of Maori descent.

Out of twenty cabinet members, eight are women. This gives a strong voice for the representation of women, which after all make up half the population.

Another first for the history books, Grant Robertson, is the first openly gay deputy prime minister. Robertson says that he is a minister for all New Zealanders. But is aware that young members of the LGBT community need to have people in top positions that they can identify with.

Whether you cared about the American election, whether Trump won or lost, perhaps you care about the future of New Zealand and the representation of all people. I’m excited about the boost of expression in these areas. I’m excited for New Zealand and for what this means for our country. There has been the need and want for a long time that Maori issues be represented in parliament, and finally, progress is happening. I hope that we see the effects of this throughout society. Being a woman, I  am excited that fair representation happens for women. It seems that this should always be the case that the cabinet seats are assigned to fifty per cent women and fifty per cent men. That seems logical to me. Having a gay deputy prime minister is really excellent. Having representation for young people and taking away any leftover shame from previous generations. It’s time for a change.

I’m excited about the change in America, too, even though America isn’t my country. I’ve long watched in horror around the absurdities that have gone on with Trump in power. The jaw-dropping embedded racism within the police department, especially, as they are supposed to be the representatives of the justice system. Having the best interest of all citizens at heart. I hope that everyone is as excited as I am. Join together in supporting one another people. Be the change that needs to happen.

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This blog is part of the NMIT Blog Network. The articles and comments in this blog are the opinion of the authors and not necessarily those of NMIT.