By Praveen Menon
WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand’s upcoming general election has the rare distinction of providing a choice of two female candidates as the country’s next leader in a poll that could be decided by the female vote.
Yet there is growing criticism that neither incumbent Jacinda Ardern nor challenger Judith Collins have policies to address the fact that women – who make up half the 5 million population – have been disproportionately negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“There has been a frightening silence, to be honest,” said Lisa Lawrence, President for the National Council of Women.
Some analysts believe the oversight could cost Ardern, who polls show is on track to win the election, a chance to become the country’s first leader to govern outright since electoral reform in the 1990s, rather than as part of a coalition.
Alarm bells pealed in August when official data showed