Former National MP Jackie Blue has congratulated the Labour Party over their proposal to introduce women-only candidate selection.
Labour is poised to introduce new party rules to ensure half of its elected MPs are women by 2017 and would allow individual electorates to run "women-only" candidate selections.
The proposed rule changes, to be decided at the party's annual conference in November, would force the party's list selection committee to ensure caucus would be 45% women in 2014 and 50% by 2017.
The current Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner for the Human Rights Commission, Dr Jackie Blue, told TV ONE's Breakfast that in the last five elections the percentage of women MPs had not increased in any way, shape or form.
"It's not acceptable when women make up 51% of the population to be currently only about 32% of MPs in parliament.
"We are in a society of equality and while women are underrepresented in politics, we do not have that equality at all."
But there is some strong opposition to the proposal.
"New Zealand women are going to get ahead in New Zealand by merit," Women's Affairs Minister Jo Goodhew told ONE News.
"And I'm not in favour of quotas at all. Our government will never put quotas in."
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Dr Blue said there are a number of barriers for women putting themselves forward for candidate selection.
"Many women may turn on the TV and just see that it's a very combative, personal environment for women MPs."
But she said that women are just as capable as men.
"Believe me there are plenty of women who are extremely capable and competent.
"They're able to step up and be representative members of parliament."
She said that now that the Labour Party is serious about increasing the number of women MPs, the challenge is for other political parties to match that.
If the new quota system is agreed upon, it will come into effect in November once the Labour Party has held its annual conference.