About that 'Man Ban'

Labour stuck talking about 'man-bans' and social engineering rather than jobs and social mobiltiy. How have they let this happen again?

I'm not against quotas.

In Afghanistan, young girls are denied education because there aren't enough women leaders. Women are victimised and systematically deprived of security, livelihood and other basic rights because they are women. In that context quotas for female representation in parliament are one of the most pressing issues facing that country. 

Quotas have a place as temporary measures. They’re a kickstart to getting women into powerful positions. They have their place.

But in New Zealand? I would prefer Labour to be talking about incomes, jobs, power prices, housing. Instead here we are once again trying to defend the merits of a policy to  people who are open-mouthed in amazement at Labour's priorities. Here we are using precious political oxygen trying to explain why it's not really a 'man ban'. We have so much more to do for women than this.

A strong women candidate does not need the handicap of people thinking she has only been selected because she is a woman, not because she is qualified.

Quotas and bans say that Labour women are not good enough to be selected ahead of men on our merits. I wouldn’t want anyone to think that of me. Helen Clark and Julia Gillard were capable of winning elections without removing men from the contest. We are not helpless dearies who need a bit of a leg up from a fixed race. 

The democratic principle at the heart of progressive politics is that any person is as good as another, we all deserve a fair go. Quotas say that what we are is more important than the content of our character or our ability to represent Labour values.

Andrew Geddis blogged here on Pundit that even David Cameron supports women-only pre-selection. But if the UK Conservatives can adopt gender quotas then there is nothing intrinsically progressive about the idea. It's just something you do instead of making the meaningful changes that are needed to bring more qualified women through. 

Labour subtly discriminates against parents. Meetings are scheduled right around bath time or over entire weekends. Pandering to internal blocs is valued over talent developed in community contexts. 

We should be seeking out the women in our communities who go on school camps, sit on their school board or coach local sports teams. We should be head hunting women in the workplace who are proving themselves every day alongside male counterparts. You can’t expect these female leaders to play the silly palace politics needed to get ahead in the Labour party.

Fix childcare. Fix flexible work hours. Fix private sector recruitment so that talent gets promoted there, too, and then recruit leaders from there, from the school gates and the weekend sports fields, instead of from the internal power blocs. And value parenting as much as political parties value political networking. I would like to see all that before they put another fix in to the selection process.