Priyanca Radhakrishnan - NZPPD Chair
Priyanca has lived and worked overseas, and around Aotearoa NZ. She has spent her work life advocating on behalf of groups of people whose voices are often unheard - women survivors of domestic violence, and migrant workers who have been exploited - and lobbying government for legislative and policy change.
For Priyanca, politics is about choices. She believes that decision-making should be community-led and should lead to better outcomes for everyone, not just the privileged few. Priyanca strongly believes that everyone - regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexuality or socio-economic status – should have the opportunity to live with dignity.
In late July 2019 Priyanca was elected as Chair of the New Zealand Parliamentarians’ Group on Population and Development (NZPPD), a cross-party parliamentary group focusing on sexual and reproductive health, the rights of women and development issues.
Louise Upston – NZPPD Vice Chair
NZPPD Vice Chair Louise Upston joined NZPPD in December 2017 with a gender and social issues background as a former Minister for Women and current Social Development Spokesperson for the National Party.
She says this background has given her an understanding of the daily struggles faced by women across different walks of life and an appreciation for the need to make further progress towards gender equality.
“I see what the outcomes can be when some of these struggles are addressed, which makes me incredibly hopeful and more determined to ensure women have equal rights, equal opportunities and equal choices in life.”
Improving the status of women in the Pacific is a focus of NZPPD and Ms Upston is conscious of the challenges faced in the region.
“In terms of women’s rights, you’ve got a high rate of violence against women, low political participation by women, strong religious views and increased pressure on resources. But if we can help with situations like this and educate people on sexual and reproductive health, the outcomes can be pretty life changing.”
Ms Upston is clear about her position on another of NZPPD’s key strategic areas - sexual and reproductive health.
“Women should have access to reproductive health, it’s as simple as that. If there are fewer women pregnant at a young age - unable to attend school, ostracised in the community - then they can focus on their education and on improving their future. Numerous reports and studies, as well as common sense, tell us that if women are educated, empowered and respected, then the whole community thrives.”
Ms Upston is looking forward to her work with the cross-party group. “I think any situation where you can have MPs from across the board putting politics aside for an important issue is pretty great.”
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