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Priyanca Radhakrishnan Is New Zealand’s First Indian-Origin Minister

. 3 min read . Written by Vanshika Goenka
Priyanca Radhakrishnan Is New Zealand’s First Indian-Origin Minister

On Monday, Kerala native Priyanca Radhakrishnan became New Zealand’s first-ever Indian-origin Minister. 

Radhakrishnan was appointed in the New Zealand Cabinet led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who recently won the general election by a landslide.

She will be the Minister for Diversity, Inclusion, and Ethnic Communities; Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector; and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan has spent her life helping women and migrants

Radhakrishnan was born in India. She completed her schooling in Singapore, after which she moved to New Zealand to pursue a degree in Development Studies. Having been a part of the Labour Party since 2006, she has worked with survivors of domestic violence and exploited migrant workers in the past.

She was first elected as a member of Parliament through the Labour Party in 2017. She was appointed the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities in 2019. 

Her father, R Radhakrishnan, expressed his happiness. “Priyanca made her debut in politics when she contested and got elected as the International Students’ Officer of the Massey University Students Association. She decided to stay back in New Zealand, when senior leaders of the Labour Party encouraged her to join the party,” he said in an interview with Indian Express.

Radhakrishnan’s victory has made several Indians proud – the likes of Shashi Tharoor and K.K. Shailaja have congratulated her on Twitter.

Speaking about the Cabinet, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, “This is a Cabinet and an executive that is based on merit but also happens to be incredibly diverse.” “Within this line-up, I’m playing to people’s strengths.”

Priyanca Radhakrishnan’s win shows us the importance of women in power

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of women in positions of power.

With Jacinda Ardern making waves in the media for handling the outbreak in New Zealand in an excellent manner, and with K.K. Shailaja gaining more recognition of her handling of the pandemic closer home in Kerala, it’s important for us to showcase and speak about women in power. Their representation in the arena of politics can give young girls and women hope that they can change the world if given a fair chance.

Politics is an arena that is overwhelmingly masculine. Women’s place in politics is, hence, contentious – there have been recorded instances of women having to project a muted, desexualised persona to be taken seriously. This is why women’s representation in politics is important – it can allow them to focus on their work without performing the kind of femininity that suits the male gaze.

With women like Priyanca Radhakrishnan in key positions, women can feel a little more welcome in politics.

You’re invited! Join the Kool Kanya women-only career Community where you can network, ask questions, share your opinions, collaborate on projects, and discover new opportunities. Join now.